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Candidate Pete Buttigieg Addresses Addiction

With the 2020 presidential campaign on the horizon, many potential candidates are getting vocal about key issues. Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg has been grabbing several headlines with his liberal policies, making him one of the more high-profile people in the arena. And to capitalize on that, he recently spoke out about his thoughts on the nation’s opioid addiction crisis.

Talking with supporters in New Hampshire this month, “Mayor Pete” (as he’s affectionately called) outlined a possible $300 billion plan that would tackle both addiction and mental health services for struggling Americans. It would include $100 billion in grants and an integration of treatment into primary care settings. He also wants to make it easter for recovery patients to get access to medication for opioid addiction.

“For years, politicians in Washington have claimed to prioritize mental health care while slashing funding for treatment and ignoring America’s growing addiction and mental health crisis,” Buttigieg explained at his recent Manchester stop. “That neglect must end. Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal.”

According to recent federal figures, roughly 11 percent of addicted Americans receive treatment in any given year. Availability and affordability are two obvious factors in that equation. Buttigieg emphasized that his plan would ensure at 75 percent of those people would receive care, thanks to new aggressive accessibility measures.

Going into more detail, Mayor Peter outlined a few realistic accomplishments that he hopes to achieve. One would be encouraging more students and young people to enter the treatment field. Incentives would include reimbursement rates and college loan repayment programs that are much more generous than what’s available now.

He also wants to work to deregulate buprenorphine, one of the three FDA-approved medication assisted treatments for opioid abuse (which we’ve covered on our blogs before). That would make it more available and more useful for people suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

Several news outlets have praised Buttigieg’s proactive stance on the issue, but do call the plan “ambitious” and potentially unrealistic when it comes to funding. It is certainly stirring the conversation though, which we believe is a very good thing. Now let’s wait and see what the other candidates have to say about this very important topic.