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As I See It

Opioid settlement money should be spent tackling the problem



An epidemic implies a sense of urgency. But that seems lost on Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers. There is no question Wisconsin and the nation are in the midst of an opioid epidemic. In La Crosse County, there have been 26 overdose related deaths this year, which is on pace to set a record. Many of the overdoses involve the powerful opioid fentanyl. The state of Wisconsin was awarded $31 million in a recent settlement with pharmaceutical companies, and the first installment of payments, about $6 million, has been received. The Department of Health Services has presented a plan for spending that money to the state, suggesting the money be used to purchase the overdose treatment drug Narcan, as well as fentanyl test strips. Other recommendations include funding treatment centers and allocating money specifically for tribal nations. Those recommendations came from a series of listening sessions involving top experts. But Republicans who control the State Budget Committee rejected the Health department’s plan for spending the money. So its just sitting there, helping no one. Tackling the state’s drug crisis should not be a partisan issue. We are in the midst of an epidemic, and the state should adopt a greater sense of urgency to address the problem.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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