Opinion: Tackling the opioid epidemic should be a priority for federal government

FILE - This Feb. 19, 2013 file photo shows hydrocodone-acetaminophen pills, also known as Vicodin, arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Boris Epshteyn formerly served as a Senior Advisor to the Trump Campaign and served in the White House as Special Assistant to The President and Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations.

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - Ninety one: That is the number of Americans that die every day from an opioid drug overdose, according to the CDC.

Ninety one people. Those are our friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers.

If that number isn’t shocking enough, 12.5 million people misused prescription opioids in 2015, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The opioid epidemic is not just a rural, suburban or urban problem. This scourge has creeped into every corner of our United States.

But when it’s your best friend, your child, your brother, your parent, your employee -- or even you --- falling victim to opioid addiction, you feel the epidemic in the most brutal, devastating way.

Common opioids include prescription medicine such as oxycodone as well as heroin, an illegal drug.

Heroin overdoses have tripled since 2010, the CDC also reported.

Funding for treatment and prevention of opioid addiction has been a key, and heated, portion of health care reform debate.

With roll backs to Medicaid, Senators pushed for more money to be set aside to deal with opioids.

The first draft of the Senate healthcare bill included $2 billion dollars in opioids addiction treatment and prevention. That number was not enough for many of the moderate GOP senators, such as Shelley Capito from West Virginia and Dean Heller from Nevada. It was raised all the way to $45 billion in the latest version of the Senate bill.

There is some bipartisan agreement on this issue, Senator Chuck Schumer (D) from New York has also been a vocal advocate for combating the opioid epidemic.

On the executive branch side, the Trump administration has instituted a Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and Opioid Crises. The commission is to provide a comprehensive review and recommendations on how to deal with opioids.

The fate of healthcare reform is still up in the air. Regardless of the outcome of that debate, the opioid disaster in this country needs to be addressed. A solution should be independent from a repeal and replacement of Obamacare. More funding is vital; commissions can be successful. However, our government needs to go deeper. They should not only deal with the demand, the addiction, but cut down on the supply of opioids as well. And that’s the bottom line.

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