Sen. Elizabeth Warren is running for president with a plan to fight the opioid epidemic. Her legislation would dramatically expand access to addiction treatment and overdose prevention, and it would cost $100 billion over 10 years. Addiction experts agree that this is the kind of money the United States needs to fight the opioid crisis. But it’s a really expensive idea, to help a deeply stigmatized population. How would a President Warren get this through Congress?
It’s been done before, with the legislation Warren is using as a blueprint for her proposal. In 1990, Congress passed the Ryan White Care Act, the first national coordinated response to the AIDS crisis. In the decades since, the federal government has dedicated billions of dollars to the fight against AIDS, and it’s revolutionized care for people with this once-deadly disease.
But by the time President George H.W. Bush signed the bill into law, hundreds of thousands of people in the US already had HIV/AIDS, and tens of thousands had died.
In this episode: how an epidemic begins, and how it ends. We look at what it took to get the federal government to finally act on AIDS, and what that means for Warren’s plan to fight the opioid crisis, today.
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Jillian Weinberger, @jbweinz
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