Letter of Support: Addiction Treatment and Recovery Programs, and Opioid Prevention

February 12, 2019

Dear Members of the House Government Operations Committee,

The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice for the Catholic Church in Minnesota, writes to express its support of H.F. 400 (Olson).  This legislation will fund many needed treatment and recovery programs to help those who are currently fighting addiction, while also expanding opioid prevention programs across the state.

Although this legislation is not as strong as the original “penny-a-pill” legislation from the last biennium, it is a significant step in the right direction to fighting the opioid epidemic and places most of the financial responsibility for fighting this epidemic in the appropriate hands, the pharmaceutical manufacturers, and not on the taxpayer.

The present opioid crisis facing this country is due in no small part to the actions of pharmaceutical companies. Through aggressive marketing campaigns beginning in the 1990s, widespread use of lobbying campaigns to encourage opioid prescribing practices and discourage regulations against opioid use, and incentive and promotion programs to get physicians to prescribe opioids with greater frequency, pharmaceutical manufacturers have helped create the problem; it is right they should contribute to the solution.

The lives negatively impacted by this disaster represent all categories of people, regardless of economic status, age, sex, race, or religious or political affiliation. The impact is far-reaching, leading to the eventual breakdown of families, friendships, neighborhoods, and communities. All of us have a responsibility to do what we can to offer help, support, and comfort to those who have formed an addiction to prescription pain killers, as well as to those individuals who have formed an addiction to illegal drugs.

Pope Francis has said, “Every drug addict has a unique personal story and must be listened to, understood, loved, and, insofar as possible, healed and purified. We cannot stoop to the injustice of categorizing drug addicts as if they were mere objects or broken machines; each person must be valued and appreciated in his or her dignity in order to enable them to be healed.”  This legislation will help to begin with that healing.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully yours,

Shawn M. Peterson

Associate Director for Public Policy