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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


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Michael Kelly, Director of Communications
Phone: (804)786-5874 
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 ~ Herring, group of state attorneys general alarmed by a potential reduction in funding to address addiction for states facing drug epidemics ~

RICHMOND (April 21, 2017) - Attorney General Mark Herring has joined 19 other state attorneys general from across the country in imploring members of Congress and the Trump administration to protect funding for drug treatment, especially in any future plans to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


The ACA currently allows significant and critical assistance for drug treatment, providing coverage to an additional 2.8 million Americans suffering from addiction. It requires both private plans and Medicaid to cover certain drug treatment.

The state AGs say this provision is essential in their fight against the growing drug epidemic that faces most states. Many AGs view the drug epidemic as the single greatest challenge facing their communities that are still recovering from the flood of addictive pain pills and now face a surge in drugs like heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil.


"The heroin and opioid epidemic is having a devastating impact on communities in Virginia and in states across the country, and it's our duty to ensure that more families aren't forced to endure the pain of losing a loved one to a drug-related overdose," said Attorney General Mark Herring. "In Virginia, we've taken a multi-faceted approach to responding to this crisis, and treatment and recovery resources are a critical part of our work. It is essential that any future attempts to replace ACA maintain funding for drug treatment and I am proud to join my fellow attorneys general in fighting for this vital measure."


"In the midst of an ongoing public health crisis, the federal government cannot abandon this commitment to our communities," the group said in its letter. "Our nation faces a drug epidemic that grows more difficult and dangerous by the hour. These drugs are causing record numbers of overdoses and are destabilizing whole communities. It is our belief that the reported numbers of overdose deaths are only a fraction of the real toll."


The group says it is alarmed that moving to a block grant or capitated rate for Medicaid could further imperil the $7.9 billion in funding that represents 25 percent of all funding for drug treatment. The group says the loss of any form of coverage for 24 million Americans under any new proposed health plan will undoubtedly leave many Americans suffering from addiction with no means of securing or paying for treatment.


"We urge you to protect access to substance use treatment and maintain our partnership and necessary levels of federal funding as we work to tackle this deadly and destructive epidemic," the group said.


Attorney General Herring has made combating the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic a top priority, attacking the problem with a multifaceted approach that includes education, prevention, and legislation to encourage reporting of overdoses in progress, expand the availability of naloxone, and expand access to the Prescription Monitoring Program. He has expanded the OAG's enforcement efforts against dealers and traffickers, working with state and federal partners to prosecute more than 58 heroin/opioid cases involving more than 400 pounds of heroin which is approximately 500,000 daily doses with an estimated street value of $12.8 million. He has supported federal efforts to improve the availability of treatment and recovery resources, partnered with U.S. Attorney Dana Boente to create the Hampton Roads Heroin Working Group to develop holistic, community-driven solutions to the heroin and opioid crisis, and made prescription drug disposal kits available across the Commonwealth. Late last year he launched www.HardestHitVA.com as a one stop shop for education, prevention, and treatment/recovery resources.


State AGs who signed the letter include the Attorneys General of: Kentucky, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.  


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