Medium Post: Obstruction In Jefferson City Is Costing Lives

Medium / June 28, 2016 /

The opioid epidemic is destroying lives, devastating families, and crippling communities across our nation. Urban and rural, young and old — few have escaped its impact as opioid overdoses have nearly quadrupled nationally since 2000.

Our state has been hit harder than most. Missourians make up over 1,000 of the 28,000 lives claimed annually by this epidemic in the United States. Over the last decade, emergency room visits for opioid overdoses more than doubled in Missouri. And from 2013 to 2014 alone, Missouri saw a 4% increase in opioid overdose deaths.

This crisis transcends partisanship, and thankfully, Republicans and Democrats from across the country know it. With smart, bipartisan solutions, members of Congress, Governors, and state legislatures have been working together to combat this epidemic ensnaring their communities.

A key tool in that fight has been drug monitoring programs, which have been found to dramatically cut opioid abuse. But in Missouri, like so many of the issues facing our state, politicians are engaging in obstruction rather than finding real solutions to protect Missouri families.

Fourty-nine states have implemented drug monitoring programs — sadly, Missouri is the only state not using this tool to fight the epidemic. Despite enjoying the support of law enforcement, community advocates,pharmacists and doctors, and leaders in both parties, the legislature has been unable to broker a compromise.

The impact of this inaction is even being felt by other states. That is unacceptable.

A senate filibuster is hardly an insurmountable obstacle to legislation in the Missouri capitol. In fact, Republican leaders have been more than willing to use legislative procedures to end filibusters on other issues that are far more divisive, like their so-called “Right-to-Work” schemes. So why have they failed to act on a straightforward, life-saving policy that has near-universal support?

It’s time for politicians in Jefferson City to go beyond cheap words, and to finally put an end to the obstruction allowing the opioid epidemic to ravage our state unchecked.