Warren unveils $100 billion plan to tackle opioid crisis

Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to spend $100 billion over 10 years to help states and territories hard hit by the opioid epidemic.

The Democrat from Massachusetts unveiled her plan for tackling the crisis, called the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency Act (CARE), on Wednesday. Warren and the chief sponsor of the bill in the House of Representatives, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, are re-introducing an upgraded version of the measure they first introduced last year.

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Warren called the proposal “a comprehensive plan to end the opioid crisis by providing the resources needed to begin treating this epidemic like the public health crisis that it is.”

Warning that the drug crisis is getting worse, Warren spotlighted that 70,000 people nationwide died from drug overdoses in 2017, the highest year on record.

“The majority of those deaths were due to opioids. Emergency room visits for opioid overdoses have skyrocketed. Children have lost their parents. And only a small percentage of those suffering ever receive the treatment they need,” she explained in a Medium post.

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Warren vowed that “if the CARE Act becomes law, every single person would get the care they need. Scores of legislators in Congress have signed on to support this plan. The nation’s top experts on the crisis stand behind it. It spells out in detailed terms exactly how funding would get to the communities that need it most.”

The populist senator who’s a champion of progressive causes is also targeting the pharmaceutical giants who are blamed for overprescribing addictive drugs that fed the epidemic.

“The opioid epidemic teaches us that too often in America today, if you have money and power, you can take advantage of everyone else without consequence,” Warren said.

She said that “under my Corporate Executive Accountability Act, executives of major companies that deliberately hurt people through criminal negligence - for example, by dumping mountains of highly addictive pills into towns….to make a quick buck - don’t just pay a fine, they face real criminal penalties.”

One of those towns hard hit by the crisis that she spotlighted is Kermit, West Virginia, where she’ll formally unveil the plan on the campaign trail this weekend. Warren will also highlight the CARE Act in Ohio, another state that’s been grappling with the epidemic for much of this decade.

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Warren, who’s unveiled a slew of policy proposals since launching her White House bid at the beginning of the year, is the latest Democratic presidential candidate to come forward with a detailed plan to win the war against the drug epidemic.

Last week a rival for the nomination, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, announced her $100 billion plan. Klobuchar’s proposal would improve access to care and fund more research. She spotlighted her plan during campaign stops the past couple of days in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote in the nominating calendar.

Ending opioid misuse and addiction was one of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s major promises during his 2016 campaign for the White House. While President Trump declared a public health emergency in 2017 over the drug crisis, there’s mixed reactions over how effective his administration’s efforts are in lowering overdoses and fighting the root causes of the epidemic.