Members of the Florida delegation in the U.S. House applauded the U.S Health and Human Services (HHS) Department for sending $27 million to the Sunshine State to battle opioid addiction.
On Wednesday, U.S. HHS Sec. Tom Price announced Florida will be getting $27 million to fight opioid addiction as part of a $485 million program under the “21st Century Cures Act.” The funds will be administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and, according to HHS, “funding will support a comprehensive array of prevention, treatment, and recovery services depending on the needs of recipients.”
In an email to Sunshine State News on Thursday night, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., said the money was needed and noted that South Florida was seeing an increasing number of deaths due to opioids.
"Additional resources to amplify the fight against opioid addiction couldn’t come to our state soon enough, especially in South Florida,” Deutch told Sunshine State News. “Overdose deaths in Broward and Palm Beach Counties doubled last year, averaging one every 15 hours. If we don’t invest in prevention, treatment, and recovery now, we will continue to see addiction take a devastating toll on our communities."
Deutch, the top Democrat on the U.S. House Ethics Committee and the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, wasn’t the only congressman from Florida to cheer the news.
“Getting a handle on the opioid epidemic is going to need hard work from federal, state and local officials,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., on Thursday. I am pleased to see everyone channeling their efforts and appropriate funding to face the issue with a comprehensive approach. I am hopeful that together we can make strides to save lives.”
Rooney has been pushing for a federal crackdown on fentanyl in recent years and his “Comprehensive Fentanyl Control Act” won the support of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) on Thursday.
U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., was instrumental in getting federal funds to battle opioids in the “21st Century Cures Act” and he weighed in on Thursday.
“The opioid crisis is not only a national epidemic, it’s happening here in our local communities,” Bilirakis said. “We must take action as opioid-related deaths continue to rise across the board in Florida, regardless of race, age, income, or zip code. This critical grant will support an all-hands-on-deck approach in our state to curb opioid abuse and save lives.”