ANNAPOLIS, Md. – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee, and Congressman John Sarbanes (Md.-03) recently gathered Maryland community leaders, medical professionals, social workers, law enforcement and members of the non-profit community for a strategy session on combating the national epidemic of heroin and opioid addiction. About 100 participants gathered at the Anne Arundel County Medical center to exchange ideas on how to reverse the uptick in heroin- and opioid-related deaths in communities across Maryland.
“Heroin and opioid abuse in Maryland is not a new problem. For years, communities have been ravaged by the externalities of addiction,” said Senator Cardin. “It gives me hope that the federal government and the United States Congress seems to be willing to take meaningful action to address a problem that has devastated families both in urban and rural settings.”
“I was proud to support and recently help pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015¸ but our roundtable made it clear to me that there is still much work for federal lawmakers to do in order to give the medical professionals, law enforcement and community leaders the tools they need to tackle heroin and opioid abuse in our neighborhoods,” said Senator Cardin. “One of the overarching themes I heard from participants was that the federal government must work on more flexible ways to reimburse those on the front lines of prevention and treatment. These organizations are committed to saving lives and arbitrary caps should not limit their potential for success. I was heartened to hear support for the expansion of collaborative care models to allow Medicaid to provide matching funds to states to reimburse treatment costs as needed.”
“Families in Maryland and across the country are being torn apart by the growing epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “By taking a comprehensive approach to this complex problem – and by bringing together medical professionals, behavioral health experts, law enforcement and local, state and federal officials – we can improve addiction treatment and expand access to prevention services.”
“We are supportive of the federal and local governments’ efforts to put policies in place to improve intervention and access to treatment,” said Ray Hoffman, MD, director of the AAMC Division of Mental Health and Substance Use. “Addiction and abuse problems are rampant throughout our communities — they do not discriminate. Addiction is a disease just like cancer or heart disease or diabetes and children, men and women deserve the same compassion, support and care that patients with other diseases receive.”