Florida Gets Federal Aid to Confront Heroin Crisis
SARASOTA — Congressman Vern Buchanan announced today that Florida is set to receive $27 million in federal aid to confront the heroin and opioid crisis. The Congressman said he will ask Gov. Rick Scott to dedicate a sufficient share of that amount to his district, the epicenter of the heroin epidemic in Florida.
The funding is part of a $485 million national allocation included in the 21st Century Cures Act, which Buchanan supported. Florida is in line to receive the third-highest amount of funding of any state after California and Texas.
“The heroin epidemic is destroying families right here in Manatee and Sarasota counties as well as across the country,” Buchanan said. “These critical federal resources will go a long way toward supporting community action against heroin, fentanyl and other killer drugs.”
Buchanan’s district includes Manatee County, where due to the spike in heroin-related deaths, the local morgue was filled to capacity this past summer and forced to store bodies at other facilities.
“I want to make sure that this funding goes where it’s needed most – Florida’s Suncoast,” Buchanan said. “My district is suffering and this money will help save lives.”
The 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law by President Obama in December 2016. The law directs $500 million to anti-drug program grants within the Department of Health and Human Services. These programs take a multi-pronged approach to tackling drug problems by beefing up drug abuse treatment and prevention, training health care practitioners in best prescribing practices, and improving prescription monitoring.
The funding level was widely supported by both parties.
Earlier this year, Buchanan announced that he has co-sponsored the STOP Act (Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act) – legislation that will toughen screening of overseas shipments of deadly synthetic drugs coming into the United States.
Heroin deaths in Florida spiked 80 percent in 2015 compared to the year prior, according to the latest data made available by the state’s medical examiners commission. The same report also cited the fact that statewide, fentanyl-related deaths increased by more than 77 percent from 2014 to 2015.
“The drug crisis is taking too many of our loved ones from us each day,” Buchanan said. “Doctors, nurses and first responders need help to fight the mounting number of overdoses. I’m committed to pushing for additional resources here in Southwest Florida to address this public health emergency.”
The Congressman has been an active leader in addressing the opioid crisis in Florida. Last May, Buchanan chaired a hearing examining the impact of addiction on kids. He also hosted a roundtable in Bradenton, Fla. with local police officers, medical professionals and stakeholders. Buchanan also chaired a meeting of the bipartisan 29-member Florida congressional delegation in Washington, DC where members heard testimony from anti-drug experts. Buchanan serves as co-chair of the Florida delegation. 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.