Just a few weeks ago, I was chatting with a friend who asked if he could give me a letter.
I asked if he just wanted to talk, but he had trouble composing his words. When he gave me the letter, I was surprised to learn that his own child had recently passed away from the disease of addiction.
He was heartbroken.
I have traveled the commonwealth with Republicans and Democrats to talk about how we can tackle the heroin and opioid crisis. We have listened to our fellow Pennsylvanians. We've held parents' hands as they cried, and we've hugged those in recovery who've risen above this disease. We've held roundtables with communities, law enforcement, and medical professionals.
Each person I talked with had a personal story they can recount by heart. And many of these stories are the same -- no matter how different the storytellers are. This crisis reaches into every population, every age group, and every kind of family.
Every day we lose ten Pennsylvanians to the disease of addiction. In the past year alone, we lost over 3,500 Pennsylvanians. Each year we are losing the population of Parkesburg, Freeland, or Mifflinburg to overdoses from heroin or other opioids. And every year the numbers grow.
Tell both Democrats and Republicans it's time to come together again and tackle the opioid crisis facing our commonwealth.
We are not alone. Prescription opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. have quadrupled since 1999.
Addiction is too often is an invisible problem. People with substance use disorders and their families fear the stigma of addiction, which keeps them isolated and unwilling to ask for help.
The consequences fall to law enforcement, jails and prisons, and understaffed treatment centers. But the problem is visible -- in the lives lost, the families broken, and the communities shaken.
Parents and those suffering from the disease of addiction have broken down talking about the difficulty of finding treatment options.
We heard them, so together in this year's budget, we increased funding for treatment centers by more than $20 million. That will create 45 centers for treatment, allowing nearly 11,000 Pennsylvanians to receive care. These centers integrate behavioral health, primary care, and, when appropriate, evidence-based, medication-assisted treatment.
And by expanding Medicaid to provide nearly 700,000 Pennsylvanians with health care, we also provided treatment to 63,000 Pennsylvanians battling the disease of addiction who previously did not have access to care.
Together, we have taken significant steps to stop this crisis, but we have more work to do.
That's why I addressed both chambers of the General Assembly in a joint session earlier today to urge lawmakers to send bills to my desk for signature that give law enforcement, doctors, pharmacists, communities, and families the tools they need to fight this public health crisis.
With your help -- and your stories of how this epidemic has affected you, your family, or your community -- I know we can take action on this important issue facing our Commonwealth.
The heroin and opioid epidemic did not start overnight, and we will not fix it overnight. But by acting on these bills -- and by putting other ideas on the table -- we can continue to stem the tide of abuse. And I know we can make progress for the families I have met and the parents who have cried on my shoulders.
With the most Republican legislature in modern history and a Democratic governor, we have balanced the budget, increased education funding, passed a fair funding formula, brought medical marijuana to suffering kids, and reformed the liquor system.
The crisis calls on all of us to cast aside partisanship once again. It calls on us to reject cynicism once again. It calls on us to take action once again.
It is on all of us do our part to tackle the heroin and opioid crisis and give our fellow Pennsylvanians the prosperous, healthy, and safe future we know it deserves.
Please say you're with me, share your story, and urge action in Harrisburg:
Saturday, October 1, 2016
Posted by Solomon's words for the wise at 10/01/2016 12:16:00 PM