Keller @ Large: Why It’s Taking So Long To Battle Opioid Crisis

By Jon Keller, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – “With every passing month, the stories and the data and the trends just get worse,” said Gov. Charlie Baker during a discussion of the opioid crisis hosted by the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Dorchester Monday.

And no one on this panel – which included Baker, Sen. Ed Markey, Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian – disputed the urgency of the crisis.

But Markey was at a loss when we asked him about a bill languishing in Congress since February that would make a small investment in drug treatment and education.

“Hopefully when we clear away the debt ceiling, when we clear away the budget agreement we’ll be able to reach this issue,” said Markey. “I am telling you right now we are in gridlock in Washington, we do very little.”

Is it being held hostage to another bill, we asked?

“It’s just held hostage to the fact that we don’t do anything in Washington.”

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

The governor was more optimistic about getting his recently-released battle plan passed by year’s end.

“I think we’re gonna get a big piece of what we’re looking for and maybe other stuff as well, and the reason I say that is I do believe there’s a lot of ‘enough is enough’ out there, and a lot of ‘enough is enough’ in the building,” said Baker.

But he acknowledged his promise of 300 new slots for in-patient aftercare treatment by next spring is just a drop in an overflowing bucket.

And for the grieving activists who came out Monday night to hear the discussion, the typical delays and compromises of the political process are intolerable.

“You gotta get it off the streets, because that’s where my kid bought it from,” said one grieving mother.

Added another: “Do it now, just do everything now, no more waiting.”

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