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Elizabeth Warren takes on opioid crisis with $100 billion from her ‘ultra-millionaire tax’

Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren is pushing her plan to spend $ 100 billion over 10 years on public health initiatives to fight the opioid addiction epidemic.

Like other pricey plans offered by Ms. Warren, the cost of the opioid plan would be covered by her proposed “ultra-millionaires tax.”

“The ongoing opioid crisis is about health care. But it’s about more than that. It’s about money and power in America — who has it, and who doesn’t. And it’s about who faces accountability in America — and who doesn’t,” Ms. Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, said in an op-ed posted on Medium.

She is the first 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful to make a major issue of the opioid crisis, though the issue was often at the forefront of the 2016 race.

The Department of Health and Human Services in 2017 declared opioid addiction to be a public health crisis, which claims about 130 lives per day from opioid-related overdoses.

Ms. Warren’s plan, the Comprehensive Addiction Resource Emergency Act or CARE Act, is not new. She introduced it last year, but it languished in a Senate committee.

Ms. Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat, are reintroducing the bill.

The cost would be covered by her plan to slap a 2% annual tax on the 75,000 families with $ 50 million or more in wealth, raking in an estimated $ 2.75 trillion over the course of a decade.

That’s enough, according to Ms. Warren’s estimates, to pay for her plans to combat opioid addiction, provide college debt relief and tuition-free public colleges and university, establish a universal child care program and make a downpayment on the “Green New Deal” to fight climate change and “Medicare for All” government-run health care.

Under the CARE Act, the money would be divvied up each year like this:

• $ 4 billion for states, territories, and tribal governments;

• $ 2.7 billion for the hardest hit counties and cities, including $ 1.4 billion to counties and cities with the highest levels of overdoses;

• $ 1.7 billion for public health surveillance, research, and improved training for health professionals;

• $ 1.1 billion for public and nonprofit entities on the front lines, including those working with underserved populations and workers at high risk for addiction;

• $ 500 million to expand access to the life-saving overdose reversal drug naloxone through first responders, public health departments and the public.

Ms. Warren will highlight her plan Friday with a campaign event in Kermit, West Virginia, a sparsely populated rural community that became ground zero in America’s opioid crisis.

“Kermit has been hard-hit by the opioid epidemic — and not by accident. Over a period of just a few years, this town of only 400 people was flooded with approximately 13 million prescription opioid pills, all delivered to a single local pharmacy — that’s more than 30,000 pills per resident,” Ms. Warren wrote. “The companies shipping these pills repeatedly disregarded requirements to report suspicious patterns of behavior, and the state Board of Pharmacy failed to enforce its own rules.”

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