WASHINGTON — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told a U.S. Senate panel on Capitol Hill Thursday that the federal government needs to boost funding to help states battle the opioid crisis.
“This crisis is not just a health crisis,” Hogan said. “This is tearing apart families and communities from one end of the country to the other.”
Hogan told senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that while he tends to favor state-initiated programs and funding, there are areas where federal help is needed: “We do need help from the federal government on expanding medically assisted treatment. That’s the only way you can get people off of these drugs. It’s the only way to break these addictions.”
He added that the federal government can play a unique role in interdiction. He spoke in favor of a bill aimed at detecting drug shipments moving into the country through the Postal Service.
Hogan referred to the situation as a “heroin and opioid crisis,” emphasizing how the problem doesn’t rest with prescription or street drugs alone. He described how the opioid crisis spread from prescription drugs to heroin, and now fentanyl. “The problem started with prescription opioids,” Hogan said, referring to the ease with which people could obtain the drugs.
He pointed to his own experience being treated for cancer, including multiple surgeries. “At one time, three different doctors within a matter of weeks prescribed me 30-day supplies of three different opioids,” Hogan said.
Maryland was the first state in the nation to declare a state of emergency due to the opioid crisis. The Hogan administration has said it would put a half-billion dollars toward dealing with the problem.
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