Massachusetts Governor Proposes Regional Plan to Combat Heroin
Governor Deval Patrick unveiled plans Tuesday to upgrade treatment for opioid addicts, expand insurance coverage, and coordinate with the other five New England governors to stem an epidemic that has claimed hundreds of lives in Massachusetts since last fall.
Key elements of the $20 million plan, which could create hundreds of new treatment beds, target the needs of adolescents and young adults, who made up about 40 percent of clients treated in fiscal 2013 by the state’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.
Among other recommendations, developed by a task force created in March, the state would provide four more residential treatment programs and five home-based programs to serve teenagers and young adults.
“These actions will help enhance our network of treatment and recovery services to help communities and families struggling with addiction,” said Patrick, who unveiled the plan in Boston at William J. Ostiguy High School, which supports adolescents struggling with substance-abuse issues.
The governor also announced that New England governors will meet next Tuesday at Brandeis University in Waltham to discuss a regional strategy to confront a crisis that transcends state borders.
In January, Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont devoted his entire State of the State address to the opioid epidemic. And in Rhode Island, state officials have acted swiftly and aggressively since large clusters of overdoses and related deaths began increasing early this year.