Governor Charles Baker has proposed $2.5 million dollars in awards to help combat this illness earlier this month.
This funding release will allow criminal justice agencies, District Attorneys, Sheriffs, funding to combat this affliction, Baker’s office said in a press release issued on February 1.
One piece of this funding is to provide additional beds for treatment. With the additional treatment beds available, the odds are now more in a favor for a person to attend a treatment facility than overdose. The funding does not require the person seeking treatment to have insurance.
These funds will also be available to purchase Naloxone, commonly called Narcan. This medication helps prevent overdosing due to opioid and heroin addiction. If an EMT is sent to a residence in Massachusetts and he or she is informed that there is a potential overdose victim, the EMT will be able to administer Narcan to help revive the victim.
To mirror the funding release, the Massachusetts State Senate has also submitted legislation to combat this problem. Some of the details of the legislation include providing an additional 150 beds for treatment, a public awareness campaign, and additional funding for law enforcement. After speaking with the Massachusetts State Press Office, Governor Baker and the State Senate are still talking. As of February 10, 2016, no agreement has been reached. Governor Baker originally proposed this funding release on February 1, 2016. The need for treatment, training, and public awareness grows every day.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports that there were six hundred confirmed opioid related deaths in 2014. With an additional four hundred and eight overdose deaths estimated.
In comparison, Governor Peter Shumlin has awarded 8.5 million dollars to be distributed to their similar agencies throughout Vermont.
The principals of the legislation that Governor Baker proposed are Attorney General Maura Healy and Senator Jeffrey Sánchez of Jamaica Plain. The principal secretary is Senator Jennifer Flanagan of Leominster. To heighten the importance of these funding awards, Frontline on the PBS WGBH is airing a 2 hour special titled “Chasing Heroin” which premieres on February 23, 2016 at 9 pm. Additionally, WCVB ran a 13 week series starting June 17, 2017 highlighting the issue.
Gary Gilreath is a vendor and a writer for Spare Change News.