Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Asks Gov for Opioid Funding

Apr 30, 2018
Press Release

New Round of $27m in Federal Aid Available

Manatee & Sarasota Counties Most in Need

WASHINGTON — Congressman Vern Buchanan today urged Gov. Rick Scott to allocate a significant portion of new federal drug funding to Manatee and Sarasota counties — two of the hardest-hit counties in Florida. 

In a letter sent to the governor this morning, Buchanan said, “these two counties in my congressional district have been disproportionally affected by the drug epidemic and by one statistical measurement rank No. 1 and 2 in the state.”

The federal Department of Health and Human Services announced this month that Florida will receive $27 million under the second and final installment appropriated by Congress under the 21st Century Cures Act to address the drug epidemic.

Buchanan called on Governor Scott to ensure the funds are delivered to the areas that need it most. “The drug epidemic is destroying lives and families on the Suncoast,” Buchanan said. “As you distribute these funds, I urge you to focus on helping communities that have experienced the brunt of this crisis.”

In 2016, Manatee County saw the highest rate of Fentanyl analog deaths in the state. These fentanyl spinoffs, which are designed to skirt U.S. law by modifying the chemical structure of the drugs, are anywhere from 50 to 100 times more powerful than heroin and 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

Sarasota had the second-highest rate of children being removed from their homes in Florida -- primarily due to parental neglect as a result of opioid abuse. Sarasota also has the third-highest percentage of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) throughout the state.

In recent years the opioid epidemic has also taken a devastating toll on Hillsborough County, part of which is in Buchanan’s district. In 2016, Hillsborough had the heartbreaking distinction of having the highest number of babies born with NAS in Florida. 

Buchanan has a long record in Congress working to address the opioid crisis.

In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration adopted Buchanan’s proposal to make it more difficult for abusers to obtain certain highly addictive narcotics. The government’s action followed the introduction of Buchanan's Pill Mill Crackdown Act of 2011.

Buchanan also co-sponsored legislation signed into law to reduce the flow of fentanyl coming into the country. And last year, Buchanan was successful in securing millions of dollars in funding for Southwest Florida to address the drug epidemic.

Earlier this month, Buchanan introduced a bipartisan, 7-point legislative package called the Opioid Emergency Response Act.

Text of the letter below:

 

April 30, 2018

The Honorable Rick Scott

Governor 

State of Florida

The Capitol

400 S. Monroe St. 

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Dear Governor Scott,
 
I am writing to request that a significant portion of newly released federal funding to combat the opioid crisis go where it is needed most in Florida — Manatee and Sarasota counties. 

These two counties in my congressional district have been disproportionally affected by the drug epidemic and by one statistical measurement rank No. 1 and 2 in the state. 

As you know, the federal Department of Health and Human Services announced this month that Florida will receive $27 million under the second and final installment appropriated by Congress under the 21st Century Cures Act to address the drug epidemic.
 
My home counties of Manatee and Sarasota are in urgent need of additional funding to prevent and treat addiction. The drug epidemic is destroying lives and families on the Suncoast and needs to be addressed as forcefully as possible. This money is desperately needed in our region.

In 2016, Manatee County saw the highest rate of Fentanyl analog deaths in the state. These fentanyl spinoffs, which are designed to skirt U.S. law by modifying the chemical structure of the drugs, are anywhere from 50 to 100 times more powerful than heroin and 10,000 times more potent than morphine.
 
Sarasota had the second-highest rate of children being removed from their homes in Florida -- primarily due to parental neglect as a result of opioid abuse. Drug abuse is a major contributor for children across the country entering foster care, including over 60 percent of all children removed from their homes in Florida. Sarasota also has the third-highest percentage of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) throughout the state.

In recent years the opioid epidemic has also taken a devastating toll on Hillsborough County, part of which is in my district. In 2016, Hillsborough had the heartbreaking distinction of having the highest number of babies born with NAS in Florida. Shockingly, heroin-related deaths in Hillsborough Country spiked by more than 700 percent from 2013 to 2014 and the county remains one of the worst affected. Hopefully, future deaths will be averted through the use of narcan nasal spray kits which were purchased for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office with last year’s grant funds. 
 
In 2016, the most recent data available, 5,725 Floridians tragically lost their lives to opioid overdoses, a 35% increase statewide over 2015. Nationwide, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. Life expectancy is projected to decrease for the third straight year -- an alarming phenomenon not seen since the deadly Spanish flu 100 years ago.

Last year, Manatee, Sarasota and Hillsborough counties received over $2.3 million to provide medication assisted treatment services to people suffering from addiction. The money from this federal program is essential for treatment providers to sustain and expand their programs to help people in need.
 
As you distribute these funds, I urge you to focus on helping communities that have experienced the brunt of this crisis. 

Sincerely,