During last week’s Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force Proviso Committee Meeting (on which I sit), a discussion came about regarding the request of Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay to the Governor of Florida’s office to declare a State of Emergency or public health crisis regarding the opioid epidemic. The same declaration was made for Zika, as well as for Pill Mills.
“Although day after day we are battling this crisis as hard as we can with our limited resources, local government cannot solve this crisis on our own,’’ she wrote.
“By making this declaration, the state would not only help raise awareness of the epidemic, but it would provide expanded options to combat it.”
But when it comes to drug abuse and overdose, Florida’s Governor seems satisfied to sit and allow people to die.
I had argued, albeit politically incorrect, that the leaders in far-away Tallahassee have always seemed to enjoy watching South Florida squirm under the weight of its problems. In this instance, why would they spend a dime or make any effort in what they see as the illegal importation of drug addicts into Florida in order to be scammed out of health insurance benefits (and Florida’s Governor should know; he has his own experience with federal insurance scams)?
In the recent article, “Missouri is the only state not monitoring prescription drug use. Will it finally create a database?“, Stat reporter Megan Thielking quotes the largest hurdle to having such a database established – Missouri State Senator Rob Schaaf, who once said that when people die of overdoses that “just removes them from the gene pool.”
While people across the nation are reeling from Senator Schaaf’s statement, perhaps it is the current political climate where having empathy, sympathy and compassion is viewed as weakness or just being “a politically correct liberal.”
Meanwhile, people are dying from drug misuse (not all of it illicit; there are voluminous instances of overdose due to prescription pill misuse), and whether they be native Floridians or not, they are still Americans. They are still humans. They are still entitled to healthcare. Or perhaps, they are not.
The debate over the future of the “Affordable Care Act” appears to be a dogmatic, philosophical debate over whether to care for people after they leave the womb. Historically, you’ve been on your own. More compassionate, evolved societies endeavor to adjust that.
I’m not sure where we are headed with regard to national healthcare policy, but it seems that as long as people like Senator Schaaf and Governor Scott continue to get elected, we won’t get very far.
I never thought I would see the day where the “right to life” was deemed a “special interest.”
P.S. – The Department of Health makes it a habit not to attend the Sober Home Task Force meetings. Because, in their mind, this isn’t a public healthcare issue; it’s an isolation behavioral healthcare issue.