Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As this week wraps up, here’s an update on what’s happening in St. Paul.
On Monday, the House approved legislation aimed at addressing Minnesota’s opioid crisis by creating an Opioid Stewardship Advisory Council to fund education, intervention, treatment, training, and prevention efforts. This bill would fund a lot of good programs that I believe would make a big difference in our state’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis.
However, I have some very serious concerns with the way this bill would generate the money that the advisory council would use to fund these programs. Funding for the advisory council’s grants would come from registration fees – totaling $20 million – on opioid manufacturers and wholesalers. My concern is that these fees will increase the price of opioids, passing the costs along to the already sick consumers who need these drugs for legitimate reasons following surgeries and because of various conditions. These patients are often facing already mounting medical bills and I don’t believe it’s fair to increase the price of their medication and make them foot the bill for these programs.
In addition, the funding generated from these fees won’t be available for another year and a half. This crisis needs to be addressed now. That’s why I support using general fund dollars to fund these programs immediately. At a time when our state has a budget surplus exceeding $1 billion, I believe we can afford to use $20 million of that to tackle such an urgent problem.
I think it is also important to note that more than 90% of opioids prescribed and sold are generics. Thus, this fee will largely affect the generic manufacturers, not the pharmaceutical companies that some people accuse of originally creating the opioid crisis.
Nonetheless, opioid abuse is certainly having an increasingly devastating impact on communities around the state. In fact, in 2017, there were 395 opioid-related deaths in Minnesota – up 18 percent from 2016. Also, deaths from opioids have increased by 66 percent from 2010-2016. Figures like these demonstrate the importance of the legislature taking meaningful action to help get this crisis under control this year.
This bill must now be considered and approved by the Senate. I am hopeful we can work with members of the Senate to address and improve these areas of concern and send to the governor the best possible legislation to address this crisis.
With students from Rosa Parks Charter School in Rochester in and around the House chamber in the Capitol building.
Had the opportunity to meet with this group from the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester.
Please Contact Me
If you have any questions or thoughts on any legislative issue, please feel free to contact me. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4378 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend,