New Federal Budget Proposal Would Decimate National Anti-Opioid Efforts

Modified: May 6, 2017 11:38am

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Date: 
5/6/17

Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein and Commissioner of Mental Health Michael Ranney to voice outrage, disappointment and opposition to proposed federal budget cuts to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (“ONDCP”). The ONDCP provides federal support and guidance to states and municipalities nationwide on drug abuse issues and has been indispensable in the fight against opioid abuse as that epidemic has swept across the country. Yesterday, National Public Radio reported on documents obtained from ONDCP that outline White House Budget Office proposals to slash ONDCP funding by 94%, from $388 million in 2017 to $24 million in 2018. This proposal would eliminate the Drug-Free Communities Support Program, the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (“HIDTA”) grant program, and would deal a devastating blow to communities like Erie County who are fighting against the opioid epidemic every day.

“These proposed cuts are outrageous, unacceptable and staggering in their cold-hearted disregard for human life.  No community can handle the fight against opioid abuse on its own, and having the federal government pull the rug out from under us is an unfathomable double-cross from the White House,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “This issue is consuming municipalities nationwide. It can’t be ignored and defunding the ONDCP will make the problem worse by magnitudes of order. We need to increase federal dollars in this area, not decrease them, and local governments need the help of the federal branch to stem the tide.”

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said, “In the face of our deadly opioid crisis, expansion of public health resources is critical, and cut backs will result in escalating numbers of opioid overdose deaths. We need to expand our efforts rather than limit vital resources. Additionally, our local NY-NJ HIDTA colleagues are invaluable partners in battling the opioid crisis, and we would be at a loss without them."

"The news of these proposed cuts is extremely disturbing. We must not and cannot allow more lives to be lost to the Opioid Epidemic,” added Erie County Commissioner of Mental Health Michael Ranney. “The loss of the HIDTA and the Drug-Free Communities Support Program would be devastating and would severely impair our ability to battle this epidemic."

Poloncarz continued, “We took the President at his word when he said he was going to increase funding for the fight against opioids, but this proposal reveals that he will do the opposite by almost completely eliminating it. This heartless proposal is a slap in the face to the countless families nationwide who’ve lost a loved one to opioid abuse. Local leaders nationwide expect these essential federal agencies to lead in the fight against drug abuse, not to turn their backs on those who need them most.”

Earlier this year, the President created a Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis but has not yet appointed anyone to serve on it. The current ONDCP website, put in place by the current administration after removing drug policy information from the Obama administration, offers no information.

For more information:

On the Erie County Department of Health, visit http://www2.erie.gov/health/

On the Erie County Department of Mental Health, visit http://www2.erie.gov/mentalhealth/