March 29, 2018

USA Today Op-Ed: Treat the opioid crisis like the HIV/AIDS epidemic

It's time for Congress to show the same political courage on the opioid crisis that our colleagues showed 30 years ago for the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

As states and communities on the front lines struggle to respond to the opioid crisis, Washington has only nibbled around the edges.  Politicians and policymakers make vague promises, treating the crisis as if it is a novel, intractable problem. It is neither.


Three decades ago, another epidemic that was highly stigmatized, greatly misunderstood, and severely underestimated was spreading through our country and killing tens of thousands of otherwise healthy people each year.  That epidemic was HIV/AIDS.


In 1990, our colleagues in Congress-Representative Henry Waxman, Senator Ted Kennedy, and Senator Orrin Hatch-worked together to pass the bipartisan Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, named after an Indiana teenager who was diagnosed with AIDS at the age of 13.


It is time for Congress to show the same political courage that our colleagues showed nearly thirty years ago.  That's why we intend to introduce legislation to establish a comprehensive system for funding and local decision-making to address opioid addiction and substance use that is modeled directly on the highly successful Ryan White CARE Act. 

Read the full op-ed on the USA Today website here.

By:  Senator Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings
Source: USA Today