October 01, 2020

ICYMI: Warren Publishes Op-Ed: Opioid epidemic did not pause for COVID-19

Op-Ed in the Dorchester Reporter


Washington, DC -- United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today published an op-ed in the Dorchester Reporter pushing for Congress to pass the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act to end the opioid crisis and address its disproportionate impact on people of color. 

Read the full op-ed here. Key sections below.

Long before the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the United States, the country was already battling another large-scale public health crisis: the opioid epidemic. Like the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic has disproportionately hit Black, Brown, American Indian, and Alaska Native communities. The coronavirus pandemic has actually made the opioid crisis worse and accelerated its devastation. Congress has a responsibility to take immediate action to tackle these twin crises. It can start by passing my Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act to end the opioid crisis and save lives. 


American Indians and Alaska Natives have some of the highest overall opioid overdose death rates and prescription opioid death rates. While data has shown rates of opioid overdose deaths are improving nationwide, Black and Brown communities are being left behind. In Massachusetts, recent data shows that while rates of fatal overdoses are declining overall, they are actually increasing for Black and Hispanic people. These are the same communities still grappling with the fallout from the failed War on Drugs that criminalized addiction, supercharging mass incarceration and tearing apart families and neighborhoods. 


In 2018, I introduced the CARE Act with the late Congressman Elijah Cummings  - landmark legislation modeled off the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act of 1990- to finally treat the opioid epidemic like the public health crisis it is. Our comprehensive bill, now led by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, would provide $100 billion over ten years to the states, cities, and tribal governments hardest-hit by the epidemic for prevention, treatment, and recovery services.


We can't afford to neglect the opioid epidemic, nor the communities it is affecting the most, while we continue to combat COVID-19. The CARE Act would ensure that every American can get the treatment they need without experiencing the stigma that so many with addiction face and would take meaningful steps to address the racial inequities in our health care system. Congress should pass the CARE Act and give communities like Dorchester the resources they need to fight back against the opioid crisis in the midst of this pandemic and beyond.