Massachusetts AG Healey Vows Unity In Opioid Fight, Rips Trump’s Plan As ‘Senseless Waste Of Money’

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2018/03/20/massachusetts-ag-healey-vows-unity-in-opioid-fight-rips-trumps-plan-as-senseless-waste-of-money/

 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey ripped President Donald Trump’s proposal to air television commercials warning the public about the dangers of opioid abuse as a “senseless waste of money.”

Massachusetts’ top cop made the remark during a 20-minute speaking engagement Tuesday following a breakfast hosted by the New England Council, a regional business organization that bills itself as the region’s “voice on Capitol Hill.”

On Monday, Trump traveled to New Hampshire to announce his administration’s plan to combat the opioid crisis, which Healey in her remarks called her office’s “top priority.” She noted that is the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.

Trump, speaking at Manchester Community College, announced a new government website — www.CrisisNextDoor.gov — which will host personal stories documenting the crisis in addition to links directing visitors to treatment and support resources.

The television commercials, Trump said, will document “unsavory situations.” He added, according to a State House News Service report of the event, that when viewers “see those commercials, hopefully they’re not going to be going to drugs of any kind and we’ll save a lot of lives and we’ll make their life a lot easier.”

Healey, who has constantly targeted Trump administration initiatives, opened her speech by calling for a de-politicization of the issue.

“I think now more than ever it is so important that we put politics aside and focus on getting things done,” she said. “That’s how I like to operate, that’s why I love the conversation that we’re going to have this morning.”

Healey, however, was quick to criticize Trump’s plan and called on his administration to boost federal funding at the local level.  

“Some of us were disappointed by the Trump administration’s roll-out, and I’ll tell you why,” Healey began. “Some of the ideas — look — that he talked about are indeed promising and necessary, and if the administration is serious about getting involved here, we desperately need their help.

“But that’s not what I heard yesterday. I heard that this is a president who wants to spend millions on scare-tactic TV commercials that we know don’t work, it’s why I opposed some of the commercials that were going up on the T from a while back, because we know from the war against drugs and ‘just say no,’ that’s not how you reach young people.”

“That is a senseless waste of money,” she added.

Healey continued:

“We also heard, despite the pleas of every fire and police department in every city and town in this region, we didn’t hear much about local funding.

“We heard a lot of talk, but really no answers, as to who is going to pay for what is actually needed. And that to me is just tragic, because these communities need this money now.

“So we’ll wait to see, and we will continue to advocate — believe you me — with this administration and the Department of Justice for needed funding, but it doesn’t help when you look to sabotage access to health care, undermining the ACA. It doesn’t help when you threaten to cut off Medicaid funds to a state like Massachusetts, and it doesn’t help if you’re not going to talk about how you’re going to fund the resources that are needed for our communities.”

Trump said Monday, however, that his plan includes calling on Congress to change decades-old statutes barring Medicaid from being used to reimburse patients’ costs at drug treatment centers. According to the State House News report, Trump also said his administration intends to push for an increase in funding to help bring non-addictive painkillers to market.

“We can do it, we’re not that far off, we can do it,” Trump said. “These things are incredibly addictive, so we’re going to find that answer also.”

Healey said her office plans “to persist and continue with the advocacy and I hope for the sake of families all across this state and this region that we start to see some relief from the federal government.

“But, as you might expect, I’m also not going to wait,” Healey noted.

She proceeded to announce that her office has reached an agreement with Walgreens in which the pharmacy giant has agreed to fork over $5.5 million to settle claims of overcharging for various medications.

“It will resolve claims of potential overcharges on prescription medications including opioids over the years,” Healey said. “The $5.5 million that my office has recovered — a lot of that of course will be returned to Massachusetts taxpayers, and some of it is going to go directly to supporting families and communities struggling with addiction.

“So look we’re going to keep at it, and we’re going to keep at it I think best by working together.”

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