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Schumer Secured Billions In Just-Passed Spending Bill To Beat Back Growing Scourge Of Opioid Drug Abuse & Trafficking By Providing More Aggressive Enforcement Measures & Increasing Treatment, Prevention & Education Efforts 

Schumer Says, Without Immediate Action, Money To Stop Traffickers, Execute Prevention Campaigns, And Increase Treatment Programs Could Get Mired In Red Tape And Remain In Limbo Doing Nothing For Oswego County And Central New York 

Schumer To Feds: We Need To Cut Oswego County’s Opioid Treatment Wait Time In Half

Standing at Farnham Family Services, the only medically-assisted treatment center in Oswego County, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today warned that, without immediate action, New York communities, like those in Central New York, could continue to wait on gaining access to the over $3 billion secured in the just-passed federal spending specifically aimed at fighting the opioid crisis. Earlier this year, President Trump called the opioid crisis a ‘national emergency,’ which Schumer said underscores the urgent need for these funds to be delivered to communities ASAP. Once delivered, Schumer said the already-secured funds will mean more treatment and rehab programs, more education programs, more prevention programs and more aggressive enforcement of drug trafficking laws in communities. Schumer today called on the feds to not delay and move these drug-fighting funds out of the coffers and into communities as soon as possible.  

“Here in Oswego County, Farnham Family Services and their partners in law enforcement and healthcare have made significant progress in combatting the local opioid epidemic – but the fight is far from over. That is why communities throughout Central New York, like here in Oswego, need and deserve every federal resource possible to continue to combat the growing scourge of opioid drug abuse and trafficking, and they need these resources now not later,” said Senator Schumer. “These new resources cannot be allowed to fall prey to bureaucratic delay and red tape. Countless communities need immediate access to treatment and prevention programs, and that’s why I went to bat for New York and pushed my colleagues to include over $3 billion in funds to combat the opioid epidemic in the just-passed spending bill.”

Schumer continued, “The depth of the opioid crisis requires all-hands-on-deck and an all-of-the-above approach. And these new federal funds will mean more treatment and rehab programs – like those offered here at Farnham, more education programs, more prevention programs and more aggressive enforcement of drug trafficking laws. However, without immediate action, I worry that these funds could sit on the desks of bureaucrats for far too long. Today, days after the spending bill has been signed into law, I am calling on the feds to move these drug-fighting funds out of the coffers and into communities as soon as they can.”

Farnham Family Services serves people with substance use and behavioral health disorders by providing high quality, recovery-oriented outpatient treatment, and prevention services that are available to all residents of Oswego and surrounding counties. Between Farnham’s two facilities in Oswego and Fulton, they serve over 200 patients a day and had a total of 17,799 clinic visits last year. In 2017, Farnham expanded treatment options by becoming the first and only treatment provider in Oswego County to provide medically-assisted treatment to individuals struggling with opioid addiction. While they currently provide treatment to over 300 patients, high demand and lack of resources forces new patients to wait up to four weeks for medically-assisted treatment. Schumer said this underscores the need for new federal funding to be directed toward Central New York, helping organizations like Farnham expand treatment options and eliminate waiting periods.  

Specifically, the budget agreement provides a $3.3 billion increase over last year’s funding levels for efforts to combat the opioid and mental health crises, including more than $2.8 billion in increases for treatment, prevention, and research for programs within the Department of Health and Human Services. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will get a $1.4 billion increase over last year. SAMHSA leads our nation’s treatment efforts to address the opioid and heroin crisis gripping communities throughout New York and the rest of the nation. In each of the last two fiscal years, New York received more than $111 million from SAMHSA block grants. These grants can go towards community efforts to equip and train first responders.

Additionally, the agreement funds nearly a $2 billion increase over last year’s levels for programs in other efforts through several departments and agencies specifically targeted to attack the opioid/heroin crisis:

  • $300 million more for Department of Justice initiatives including interdiction, enforcement, drug and mental health courts, and treatment programs. For instance, these funds can be used towards the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program, Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program, Veterans Treatment Courts, Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners Program, and Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program; 
  • $350 million more for the Centers for Disease Control for preventing prescription drug overdoses; 
  • $500 million more in NIH funding for targeted research on opioid addiction within the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA);
  • $415 million more to the Health Resources & Services Administration, which promotes health care in underserved communities and oversees Community Health Centers. There are 65 CHCs in New York, serving nearly 2 million patients in 2015 and employing more than 15,000 New Yorkers; and 
  • $61 million more to the Department of Veterans Affairs for additional funding for treatment and prevention ($434.6 million total).

Schumer was joined by Executive Director of Farnham Family Services Eric Bresee, local elected officials, law enforcement and healthcare providers.

“While Farnham Family Services has made great strides expanding programming in partnership with NYS OASAS in the past couple of years, the need in our community continues to be dire. We are seeing more individuals than ever before struggling with opiate use disorder. Lives are being ruined, families are being torn apart and people are dying at unprecedented rates. We need to attack this problem from all sides and provide the most comprehensive treatment and support possible,” said Eric Bresee, Executive Director. “Additional funding to our region would open the door for open access, detox beds, inpatient rehabilitation and long-term residential treatment. We need to better support our current workforce and to create a benefit package that will help attract the best in the field to support those in need.” 

“We must work together as federal, state, and local officials to overcome the current epidemic, which also means a commitment of resources at all levels. As both the county’s District Attorney and Coroner, I know that the heroin / opioid epidemic is as much of a public health issue as it is a public safety concern. We cannot simply arrest ourselves out of the situation. We need a proactive and sustained approach that focuses on enforcement, treatment, and education / prevention,” said Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes

“Northern Oswego County Health Services, Inc. (NOCHSI) is delighted with Sen. Schumer’s efforts to bring additional resources to Central New York to fight the opioid scourge. As the largest primary health care provider in Oswego County, NOCHSI daily deals with the health and social ramifications of the opioid epidemic. These additional resources offer NOCHSI the opportunity to partner with other health and human service agencies to develop a more aggressive and coordinated approach to resolving this very challenging issue,” said Dan Dey, President & CEO Northern Oswego County Health Services, Inc.

“Oswego County, like other counties throughout the country has a concerning opioid issue that is impacting Oswego Hospital’s Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit,” said Oswego Health President and CEO Michael Harlovic. “Funding to combat this issue will be beneficial to Oswego Health as the health system renews its Behavioral Health Services facility, which once completed will allow us to provide integrated connected care. Many of these individuals have multiple health concerns and we will offer combined behavioral health and primary care services, leading to a more effective recovery. Funding will also assist us to develop innovative services with other healthcare partners in our community.”

Schumer cited a CDC report that showed that in 2016, the rate of drug overdose deaths across the country was 21 percent higher than the rate in 2015. In Upstate New York, overdose deaths skyrocketed by 23 percent in 2016, with a total of 1,392 opioid overdose deaths in 2016. According to the New York State Department of Health, there were 242 opioid-related deaths in Central New York in 2016, compared to 158 opioid-related deaths in 2015—an increase of 53%. Oswego County saw 23 opioid-related deaths in 2016, compared to 15 in 2015— an increase of 53%. 

Schumer today called on the feds to do everything in their power to move these specific pots of money immediately. Schumer said, often times, bureaucracy can get in the way of moving federal funds quickly into the hands of those organizations and local programs that need them the most; however, this is a national crisis that simply cannot wait to be addressed. Schumer said the drug-fighting funds in the just-passed spending bill will mean more treatment beds for New York, more education programs, more prevention programs, and more aggressive enforcement of drug trafficking. Schumer said these are all efforts that need to be funded right now and said the feds should cut these checks and deliver this already secured aid immediately.