Sen. Van Hollen says GOP backing off on treatment

The politics of treating addicts
Posted at 6:15 PM, May 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-12 18:18:53-04
Right now five dozen addicts call the Tuerk house in West Baltimore their home and on this day, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen stops by to offer hope for the hundreds of people stuck on its waiting list.
Van Hollen and Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen toured the facility and listened to stories of hope from its residents at a time when hope for added treatment dollars is waning in Washington.
"Just yesterday, the U.S. Attorney General, Attorney General Sessions, decided to roll back some of the progress we've made at the federal level under the Obama administration where they were telling prosecutors to deal with substance abuse with more care and not simply locking people up," said Van Hollen.
It is a point not lost upon Baltimore's health commissioner who advocates treating addiction like a disease, not like a moral decision or crime.
"Actually, for addiction, we know what works,” said Dr. Wen, “We just don't have the resources to do it and I know that there are all kinds of commissions proposed to study this issue further, but actually we don't need more studies.  What we need is treatment."
There's also concern the bid to shake up national healthcare could further alienate addicts at a time when they need the help the most.
"One of the essential benefits under the Affordable Care Act was to provide for substance abuse treatment and for mental health treatment, and one of the proposals, in fact the proposal that passed the House of Representatives would allow that to be eliminated," said Van Hollen.
Dr. Wen says in addition to access to treatment on demand, Baltimore also desperately needs more funding for Narcan and Naloxone, which have already saved 800 lives in the city alone.