The Impact
The Impact
Jan 8, 2020
How to stop an epidemic
Play • 32 min

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. 

We always want to hear from you! Please send comments and questions to

Further listening and reading: 

Subscribe to The Impact on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app to automatically get new episodes of the latest season each week.


Jillian Weinberger, @jbweinz

About Vox:

Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.

Follow Us: 

Newsletter: Vox Sentences

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

More episodes
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu