U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer urged the federal government Sunday to fulfill its commitment and fund the programs vital to New York’s fight against the opioid crisis.
As part of the federal budget deal, the Centers for Disease Control was supposed to provide an additional $350 million for anti-opioid efforts across the country, however a new federal policy prevents New York City and other municipalities from getting those dollars directly as they have in the past, according to the senator. Instead, the funds will go to the state, which must then distribute them.
Schumer sent a letter to the CDC Sunday that called on the agency to rethink its policy before finalizing its grant awards this week, citing a growing number of overdoses in the region.
“By playing this dangerous and irresponsible game with these dollars, the federal government is setting an aberrant precedent and making a big mistake all at the same time,” Schumer said in a statement.
Representatives from the CDC did not immediately return a message for comment.
The rate of unintentional drug overdose cases shot up from 8.2 per 100,000 residents in 2010 to 19.9 per 100,000 residents in 2016, according to the city’s Department of Health.
Long Island has also seen an increase in opioid-related overdoses, according to the state Department of Health. One week in June 2017, Suffolk County reported 22 overdoses over a two-day span, the senator’s office said.
Schumer said the CDC funding would pay for the city’s “Leave Behind” naloxone program, which will launch at the end of the summer. The program provides FDNY EMS teams with 5,000 naloxone kits to be distributed annually at homes they visit in response to an overdose call.
The funding would also go toward hospital inpatient programs, according to the senator.
Schumer said the CDC has previously awarded grants to city programs, such as immunizations and HIV prevention. If the agency fails to return to this policy, it could force counties within the state to compete for the available funds.
“There is simply no good reason for the feds to play yo-yo with critical federal funds that New York needs to beat back and address the opioid epidemic,” Schumer said in a statement.