2 governors, 2 different approaches to fight opioid crisis
(CNN) — Lawmakers across the country are trying various methods to combat the staggering opioid epidemic, and two states’ governors are taking matters into their own hands to fight the escalating crisis.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order Wednesday declaring a statewide public health emergency in response to the problem, according to a statement from his office.
By signing the executive order, Florida can immediately draw down more than $27 million in federal funds previously awarded by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Sunshine State received the funding in April as part of a two-year award totaling more than $54 million from the HHS Opioid State Targeted Response Grant, given by HHS Secretary Tom Price. Without the executive order, Florida would have had to wait until the start of the next fiscal year in July before accessing the funds.
“I know firsthand how heartbreaking substance abuse can be to a family because it impacted my own family growing up,” Scott said in the statement. “The individuals struggling with drug use are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends and each tragic case leaves loved ones searching for answers and praying for help.”
As part of the executive order, Scott also directed state Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Phillip to declare a statewide public health emergency and issue a standing order for the anti-overdose treatment Naloxone. In 2016, Florida enacted the “Emergency Treatment and Recovery Act,” which authorized all Florida first responders, including law enforcement officers, paramedics and emergency medical technicians, to store and administer the emergency treatment.
According to the Florida Department of Health, opioids were responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,900 Floridians in 2015.
Maine wants to charge for Naloxone
Maine Gov. Paul LePage also wants to employ legislation in his state’s battle against opioids, although he is pursuing a more punitive course than his southern counterpart.
LePage this week submitted governor’s bill LD 1558 that would require people receiving opioid overdose treatments such as Naloxone to pay for the antidote if they are receiving it for a second or subsequent time. Municipalities, including first responders, are also subject to a $1,000 fine if they do not attempt to recoup the cost of administrating the Naloxone from those receiving the treatment more than once. “The municipality or county or agent shall make all reasonable efforts to recover the cost of the dose administered if it is not the first opioid antagonist administered to the individual,” the bill reads.
LePage and the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Frances Head, did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.