Gov. Rick Scott declares opioid emergency in Florida

Henrietta Brewer
May 6, 2017

But the CDC has been calling this plague an epidemic since February 2011.

Attorney General Pam Bondi said, "This declaration will help strengthen our continued efforts to combat the national opioid epidemic claiming lives in Florida by providing additional funding to secure prevention, treatment and recovery support services".

"The order was issued now because we have traveled the state and received feedback and community input", Wyland wrote. So the order directs "that sufficient funds be made available, as needed, by transferring and expending moneys appropriated for other purposes, moneys from unappropriated surplus funds, or from the Budget Stabilization Fund".

The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill (HB 477) that would impose tough criminal penalties on people who traffic in fentanyl, which is often mixed with drugs such as heroin and is one of the causes of increased overdose deaths. Kunzelman, who serves on Palm Beach County's Sober Homes Task Force, said he is looking forward to seeing what actions the state takes next. "This is something we have been dealing with for at least four years". "I feel like it's good legislation and it's something that the entire South Florida community is crying for, so I have confidence in the process".

Scott had been under increasing pressure from lawmakers to do something about the epidemic. He also wants money for the state's economic development agency to use as incentives to lure businesses to the state. Jeff Clemens, a Democrat, said last month according to the Florida Sun Sentinel.

Florida has been hit especially hard by the deadly opioid overdose epidemic. This drug is associated with more than 700 deaths in the state a year ago. Naloxone can be used to block the effects of opioids and prevent overdoses. During a period of six years, Medicaid was billed $2.9 billion of $5.7 billion in heroin-related Florida hospital charges. In its 2015 annual report, released in September 2016, the commission noted the total of drug-related deaths across the state shot up in 2015 by 13.9 percent, or 1,197 people, when compared to numbers from 2014.

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