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Joe Donnelly, Lake County community leaders address the opioid epidemic with roundtable discussion

Joe Donnelly and Lake County community leaders met to find new paths forward to address the opioid epidemic in a roundtable discussion today.

Joe met with local and state first responders, local officials, faith leaders and other stakeholders dedicated to fighting the opioid epidemic at Franciscan Health in Hammond this morning. They discussed the new steps forward to address the crisis in last week’s omnibus spending bill, new sources of funding to address the issue, and the impact opioids have had in Northwest Indiana.

Since arriving in the Senate, fighting the opioid crisis has been a hallmark focus of Joe’s service. In 2016, elements of his Heroin and Prescription Opioid Abuse Prevention, Education, and Enforcement Act were signed into law as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. He has also helped expand the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, which has increased funding to stop the flow of drugs in Lake, LaPorte, Porter and Marion Counties.

Joe also had multiple provisions included in last week’s omnibus bill, which included $4 billion in new funding to address the opioids crisis, that address the lack of resources that many communities have to combat opioid addiction. Portions of his Strengthening the Addiction Treatment Workforce Act, introduced with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), were included that encourage health care providers in the National Health Service Corps to go to underserved communities in exchange for student loan assistance. The omnibus also included further efforts to address the opioid epidemic in rural areas through the Rural Health and Safety Education Program and the Telemedicine and Distance Learning Services programs.

“Opioid addiction has ravaged families across the state, and we need policy makers to come see the impact these drugs have had first-hand if we’re to move forward here,” said Bishop Tavis Grant, Senior Pastor of the Greater First Baptist Church. “I’m thankful every day that we have someone like Joe Donnelly in Washington fighting for folks in the Region struggling with the scourge of opioid abuse. He’s delivered real victories that have helped us address the crisis here in Indiana, and he knows how far we still have to go because he’s traveled across the state and seen this struggle first-hand in our biggest cities and smallest towns.”

“Too many families in Indiana have lost mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters to the scourge of opioid abuse, and as long as I’m lucky enough to represent Hoosiers in the Senate, I’ll work as hard as I can to make sure we have the resources to combat it,” said Joe Donnelly. “By recruiting more first responders in underserved areas, and fighting for more money here in Indiana for prevention, treatment, and recovery, we can come closer to removing the tragedy of opioid addiction from Indiana.”

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