New bill could fund more addiction recovery efforts

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- A new push at the statehouse could help families and victims impacted by the ongoing opioid crisis.

Senate Bill 33 would create a $9 million fund, with a million dollars going to each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts. That money would be divided up to hospitals or treatments centers to establish recovery programs or enhance those already up and running.

Lawmakers have spent years trying to help the thousands of people caught in the clutches of opioid addictions, and some are hoping this proposed bill this session will do even more.

“In 2013, I lost my son Aaron to a heroin overdose,” said Justin Phillips, who knows better than most the horror that opioid addiction can bring.

Wednesday morning, she urged lawmakers to adopt a bill that aims to give healthcare providers more resources to fight the ongoing drug scourge.

“We have to treat the whole system,” said Phillips. “We can’t just treat the individual.”

Brandon George testified as the CEO of the Indiana Addiction Issues Coalition, and as recovering addict himself.

“This money isn’t to create a brand new facility, it’s to help fill out services that are either lacking or non-existent or connecting resources,” said George.

But even some who spoke in support of the bill were explicit at the kind of money needed to fully fix the problem. There is concern Indiana would need around $1 billion to fully address the problem.

Even so, the bill’s author, State Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) said $9 million will help create a program on which the state can then base future recovery initiatives.

“We’re not set up for a statewide comprehensive approach to addiction,” said Merritt.

No one testified in opposition to the bill.

It still has to be amended and then voted on by a Senate committee before heading to the full Senate floor for a vote.

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