• Advertisement

Joyce Craig Releases Plan To Address Opioids and Crime While Gatsas Plays Games With Voters

This week, the Manchester mayoral race ratcheted up a notch as Joyce Craig unveiled her plan to address the opioid epidemic and the current Mayor, Ted Gatsas, looks to score political points with additional funding to the ‘Safe Station’ program and a new solar power project.

On Tuesday morning, Joyce Craig released her plan to address the opioid crisis and crime in the city, titled “Safe Streets, Opioid Crisis, and Recovery Services Plan.” The plan includes important provisions involving early education, support for expanded Medicaid, and receiving support from the state.

“The opioid crisis is continuing to harm Manchester. Programs like Safe Station are vital to our response, but we need to be doing more. I believe we need a comprehensive approach including early education, prevention, peer recovery support, strong enforcement, and increased advocacy. As the largest city in the state, Manchester needs to lead the effort to combat the opioid crisis. As mayor, I will fight for state and federal resources and empower our community service providers to respond effectively. The safety of every resident of Manchester is my first priority, and my plan reflects the steadfast approach I will take to addressing opioid and safety issues in our city,” Craig said.

Although the city of Manchester has been making efforts to combat the opioid crisis, the problem is as severe as ever and remains a top concern for residents. This past September saw the most overdoses in Manchester in a single month with 147, and every month this summer saw increased overdoses from last year. Policies such as Safe Station are important, but more must be done if we want to see an end to this crisis.

Craig’s plan includes:

  • Continue regular ride-alongs with the police and fire departments to understand the challenges our community and first responders face
  • Develop and implement an evidence-based substance use prevention education program for schools and the community
  • Hold landlords accountable for problem properties where drugs are being sold and used and crimes are committed
  • Lead weekly interdepartmental meetings between the mayor, fire, health, police, office of youth services, the superintendent and key community organizations to ensure we are working together to comprehensively address the opioid crisis
  • Track and report outcomes based on funding to identify the most effective programs and improve services that combat the opioid crisis
  • Monitor indicators such as arrest data, emergency room admission rates, respite center admission rates and average wait time to identify key areas that need improvement
  • Compile citywide overdose data and utilize the data to identify and target interventions to reduce overdoses and overall opioid misuse
  • Establish partnership with the state to address this statewide problem. Over 65% of Safe Station entrants come from outside of Manchester, we need the state to recognize and invest in this program as a statewide resource
  • Advocate for resources from state and federal agencies that city departments and community service providers need to make a lasting difference in this fight, such as recovery housing throughout the state
  • Maintain a full police complement at all times to ensure resident safety
  • Support and advocate for expanded Medicaid. Without it, Safe Station would end and treatment options in Manchester would significantly decrease
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive plan to address chronic homelessness

In a surprising announcement yesterday, Mayor Gatsas and Governor Sununu announced additional funding for the ‘Safe Station’ program.

“I want to thank Governor Chris Sununu, Drug Czar David Mara, and Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeff Meyers for working with the City of Manchester to ensure the continued success of the Manchester Safe Station program. The immediate $150,000 commitment by Governor Sununu and his leadership team will assure the continuation of Manchester Safe Station and the programs in place to provide the services to Safe Station. I am confident that as we move forward we will secure additional funding for the future,” Gatsas said.

This announcement is surprising because it was Mayor Gatsas who opposed an additional $50,000 requested by Chief Goonan to be moved to Serenity Place as part of the Safe Station program in July of this year.

Gatsas is hoping that with today’s announcement people will forget about all of the times he opposed increased spending on the Safe Station program.

During her campaign for mayor, Joyce Craig has advocated on multiple occasions for state funding for Safe Station. Joyce recognized that Safe Station is a statewide resource in the fight against the opioid crisis and should receive support from the state.

In a written statement, Craig said, “This is good news for Manchester’s Safe Station program and those dealing with substance misuse. Safe Station has been a great tool to help people receive recovery services and I am thankful to our first responders for implementing this program.

Unfortunately, Ted Gatsas didn’t bother to take action to make sure Safe Station is recognized as a statewide resource until three weeks before his next election. I’ve advocated for state recognition for months and I am glad Mayor Gatsas decided to take my lead and ask for funding in Concord this week. We need a mayor who works for Manchester every day, not just in the weeks leading up to an election.”

Another example of Gatsas playing games with the people of Manchester is his new solar power project.

“The proposal consists of a twenty five-year power purchase agreement for solar energy and the construction of a solar array on Mount Manchester, also known as the former city dump, that will generate at least three mega watts of power,” reported Girard at Large.

In 2015, Gatsas killed a proposal that was fully supported by the Board of Alderman to install solar panels at the former landfill in Ward 12.

Craig called out this proposal for what it is, a half-baked idea to “score political points” with voters just prior to the election.

“It was clear from the presentation this evening that this proposal was nowhere near ready to be presented to the full Board of Mayor and Alderman. Although he acknowledged being aware of the issue for weeks, Mayor Gatsas failed to provide any information to the Aldermen until tonight. Mayor Gatsas is attempting to rush this issue through the board to score political points before the election. He should have followed the usual protocol and sent this to the city’s energy committee for proper vetting.”

Craig was also quick to criticize Gatsas for his failure to support a similar proposal in 2015.

“Manchester would already be realizing energy savings and revenue if Mayor Gatsas didn’t kill a fully vetted and approved solar project for the landfill in Ward 12 that was overwhelmingly supported by the aldermen in 2015.

I’ve been a strong advocate for renewable energy as an alderman and during my campaign for mayor. While I appreciate Mayor Gatsas is finally endorsing renewable energy, the city would have been better served had the mayor supported a fully vetted project two years ago. Manchester needs a mayor who serves the city every day. Unfortunately, Mayor Gatsas is scrambling to fix his record with rushed plans three weeks before the election.”

Kuster Leads Roundtable in Salem on Youth Opioid Education and Prevention

(Salem, NH) – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), the co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, lead a roundtable discussion at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem on youth opioid education and prevention. The discussion, which drew an audience of community members, brought together local and state leaders addressing the opioid crisis and centered on the often overlooked impact of the epidemic on New Hampshire’s youth. Prior to the discussion, Congresswoman Kuster was given a tour of the Boys & Girls Club facility.

“The opioid epidemic is taking a toll on families and communities in every corner of our state,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “We know the impacts of the opioid crisis go beyond those suffering from substance use disorder, it extends to children and family members as well. We all have a role to play in tackling this crisis and I was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss programs aimed at protecting our youth with leadership at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem, law enforcement, and educators.  I will continue working in Congress to strengthen education, prevention, treatment and recovery services for Granite Staters of all ages.”

“The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem wants to thank Congresswoman Kuster for having an important discussion regarding the impact that opioids are having in our community,” said Marco Abreau, COO, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem. “The opioid epidemic that is hitting our communities is an unfortunate reality for many of our Club members.  Many of our members are dealing with the cruel circumstances of their loved ones falling victim to addiction.  The task at hand is definitely a challenge, however the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem will not waiver as we continue to push forward in the support of all our members and their families.  Our mission states we will be here for the youth ‘who need us most’, and this holds true for the fight against the opioid epidemic.”

In June, the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force released its legislative agenda for the 115th Congress. The agenda includes the Stem the Tide of Overdose Prevalence from Opiate Drugs (STOP OD) Act, which authorizes up to $75 million in educational grants to prevent opioid abuse, and the Synthetic Drug Act, which requires the Surgeon General to submit a report to Congress on the health effects of the rise of synthetic drug use among young people aged 12 to 18.

New Hampshire has been on the front lines fighting back against the opioid epidemic.  New reporting from The Daily Beast showed that under the new GOP proposed healthcare plan, funding for opioid addition, recovery, and research would vanish.  The bill would slash Medicaid, which many claim is the biggest asset to fighting opioid addiction, as well as cut “$45 million” in addition funds earmarked for opioid treatment.

“Opioid addiction is taking lives and tearing apart families. But instead of fighting to address the problem, Republicans in Congress want to ram through this partisan bill to take away people’s health care and slash billions in funding for addiction treatment,” said Tom Perez, chair of the DNC. “Just over a month after calling the opioid epidemic a national emergency, President Trump has done nothing to help those affected. Now he’s leading the Republican charge to strip protections and resources from the working families who need them most.”

“This issue knows no party. From New Hampshire to Nevada, the opioid crisis has ravaged communities across the country. And without the Affordable Care Act, things will get even worse. Democrats believe that this urgent crisis demands urgent action. That’s why we will keep working to give families the resources they need to fight back. We cannot sit idly by while Republicans choose cruelty over compassion and destroy the lives of millions,” added Perez.

Congresswoman Kuster Leads Heroin Task Force To A Bold Agenda For Next Two Years

Bipartisan Heroin Task Force Releases
Legislative Agenda for the 115th Congress

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force led by Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Donald Norcross (D-NJ) released its legislative agenda for the 115th Congress. The agenda includes commonsense, bipartisan legislation to address the opioid epidemic from the perspective of law enforcement, prevention, treatment, and recovery.

The bills included in the agenda include Jessie’s Law, the STOP OD Act, the Addiction Recovery Through Family Health Accounts Act, Road to Recovery Act, the INTERDICT Act, the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act, the CRIB Act, and the VA Prescription Data Accountability Act.

Full details of the legislative agenda are available here.

“The opioid addiction epidemic is a crisis that transcends politics,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “We know that tackling substance use requires a comprehensive approach that takes into account law enforcement, prevention, treatment, and recovery. The legislative agenda we released today represents the commonsense approach that the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force is committed to pursuing. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues on the Task Force to announce this agenda and look forward to working across the aisle to make progress in addressing the opioid epidemic.”

“The opioid crisis has touched so many families and communities across the United States,” said Congressman MacArthur.  “It has always been my belief that we must find a balance between showing compassion for those suffering with substance abuse, while stopping the flow of drugs into our communities and those who profit from other people’s misery.  I believe our legislative agenda represents this balance and I’m grateful members from both sides of the aisle could come together on this critical issue.  The agenda released today is a crucial step in our fight against drug abuse.”

“Drug overdoses involving prescription opioids and heroin have nearly quadrupled since 1999 and are now the leading cause of accidental death. In my home state of Pennsylvania, drug-related deaths and opioid addiction rates were among the highest in the country – rising 20 percent in one year, including a 50-percent increase in my district alone. It’s clear this epidemic is destroying precious lives and costing us resources,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “Fighting back against this addiction crisis requires a multi-faceted approach and the bold, bipartisan legislative agenda laid out by the Task Force responds to the real-world concerns expressed by local lawmakers, community leaders and healthcare professionals across the county who endeavor to tackle this epidemic each day. Together, we can win this fight.”

“In Williamstown, NJ – a town in my district – the heroin death rate is nearly 25 times the national average. It’s tragic and unacceptable. We need to take collaborative, bipartisan action to help the people in Williamstown and every town around the country,” said Congressman Norcross. “Last year we saw the largest annual jump in overdose deaths ever recorded in our country – it’s clear we must cross party lines to curb the opioid epidemic. The Bipartisan Heroin Task Force is standing together to offer commonsense legislative solutions because one preventable death is too many.”

The co-chairs of the Task Force were joined in today’s announcement by Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Evan Jenkins (R-WV), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Keith Rothfus (R-PA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Tim Walberg (R-MI), Peter Welch (D-VT), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), and John Sarbanes (D-MD).

Full details below.

170627_FINAL_Legislative Agenda

On The House Floor, Shea-Porter Pushes Amendment To Require Insurance Coverage Of Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

As Congress Debates Health Care Legislation, Congresswoman Highlights New Hampshire Heroin, Fentanyl, and Prescription Opioid Crisis 

WASHINGTON, DC Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today offered and the House voted on a Motion to Recommit that would require association health plans to provide coverage for substance use disorder treatment. As Congress this week considers the American Health Care Act, which would cause 24 million Americans to lose their coverage, Shea-Porter called on her colleagues to work together to improve access to quality, affordable health care.

“Today, Members of Congress can say to my constituents in New Hampshire and their constituents across this great nation: we hear you. We know your sons and daughters, your nieces and nephews, your neighbors and friends are struggling, and we have your back,” said Shea-Porter. “We believe all Americans deserve good health insurance they can count on when they need it most. We aren’t going to pull the rug out from under people who are about to turn their lives around.”

Shea-Porter’s remarks highlighted the fact that much-needed treatment facilities, such as Hope on Haven Hill in Rochester, which she recently visited, have been able to open because more Americans now have insurance that covers treatment thanks to the Affordable Care Act and its Medicaid expansion. 

177 Democrats and 2 Republicans voted for Shea-Porter’s motion.

SHEA-PORTER’S FULL HOUSE FLOOR REMARKS

“I rise today on behalf of the families and communities across this nation that are confronting a public health threat of our time: the heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid crisis. 

“This motion would simply ensure that the health insurance plans that today’s bill would permit must still cover substance use disorder treatment, including for opioids, as an essential health benefit.

“Under current law, we require insurers to cover this treatment. Before the Affordable Care Act, many insurers either didn’t cover treatment at all or imposed onerous requirements that blocked people from getting needed care.

“H.R.1101 would roll back that guarantee. It would allow association health plans to return to the kind of skimpy coverage that left so many people struggling with an opioid disorder in dire straits at critical moments. We know there’s often a narrow window of opportunity — after an overdose, for example — for someone to commit to treatment, and these are the moments when being able to make a single phone call can make all the difference. 

“This week’s debate about health care is extremely important. Will we decide to work together to improve the American people’s access to quality, affordable health care or weaken benefits and kick 24 million or more of our constituents off their plans? We all need to speak up on behalf of those whose lives have been turned around because they can now access care.

“As I talk to families, medical professionals, and law enforcement officials in my district, I hear stories that highlight the dramatic impact that improved access to coverage has had in making treatment a real option for people with substance use disorder.

“This week, we see that base of coverage is under serious threat. In fact, experts estimate that repealing the Affordable Care Act’s coverage provisions would cause about 2.8 million Americans with a substance use disorder to lose some or all of their coverage.

“And the quality of that coverage is also at risk. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance now must cover treatment for behavioral health and substance use disorder, just the same as it would cover any other medical service. These parity protections mean insurers must cover treatment for substance use disorder with comparable cost-sharing — no more surprises, like annual visit limits, higher copays, or frequent pre-authorization requirements and medical necessity reviews.

“Badly needed facilities are opening because plans now cover these services. I recently visited a recovery home for pregnant women and new mothers that was able to open its doors this year in my hometown only because it could rely on Medicaid expansion. Legislation like H.R.1101 would cause fewer people to have this coverage, meaning fewer facilities can open.

“Many of you know that my home state of New Hampshire is on the front lines of the heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid crisis. Our communities are struggling, and helping people get treatment is key to turning the tide. I have met the people who couldn’t be in a recovery facility without Medicaid expansion. 

“Today, Members of Congress can say to my constituents in New Hampshire and their constituents across this great nation: we hear you. We know your sons and daughters, your nieces and nephews, your neighbors and friends are struggling, and we have your back. We believe all Americans deserve good health insurance they can count on when they need it most. We aren’t going to pull the rug out from under people who are about to turn their lives around.

“I urge my colleagues to support this motion, which would not delay passage of the underlying bill. Thank you.”

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 12,492 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement