Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, says he will urge Gov. Rick Scott to allocate a significant portion of the $27 million Florida will receive in new federal funding to address the opioid epidemic to be spent in his district, which includes Manatee County, the epicenter of the crisis in Florida.
President Barack Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law on Dec. 13. The law appropriates $500 million in 2017 and in 2018 for the states to respond to the opioid abuse crisis through a grant program under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
On Friday, Buchanan announced in a news release that Florida is set to receive $27 million of that funding, with only California and Texas receiving more money.
“The heroin epidemic is destroying families right here in Manatee and Sarasota counties as well as across the country,” Buchanan said in a statement issued Friday. “These critical federal resources will go a long way toward supporting community action against heroin, fentanyl and other killer drugs.”
The 21st Century Cures Act, which Buchanan voted in favor of, calls for the grants provided to states be used for improving state drug monitoring programs; implementing prevention methods; training for health care professionals, including best practices in recognizing potential cases of substance abuse; pain management; referrals for patients to treatment programs and overdose prevention; supporting access to services provided by opioid treatment programs; and other programs developed by the state to combat the crisis.
In his news release, Buchanan cited Bradenton Herald reporting on how heroin-related overdose deaths have gotten so out of control in Manatee County.
“I want to make sure that this funding goes where it’s needed most — Florida’s Suncoast,” Buchanan said. “My district is suffering and this money will help save lives.”