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New Data Shows 2016 Rate of Drug Overdose Deaths In The U.S. Increased By An Unprecedented 21%; Westchester And Rockland Counties Have Not Been Spared, With 143 Opioid Overdose Deaths In 2016, A Nearly 200% Increase From 49 Deaths In 2015

Schumer Says Startling New CDC Data Serves As Shot Across the Bow And Reason We Must Secure Additional Federal Funds Here At Home

Schumer: Westchester And Rockland Counties Desperately Need Additional Federal Funding To Beat Back Opioid Scourge and to Treat and Cure Those Afflicted By It

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer recently launched a major push to fight the accelerating and deadly opioid crisis. Specifically, Schumer said he will prioritize and push to secure additional federal funds during final budget negotiations now occurring in Congress to help Hudson Valley communities like Westchester and Rockland Counties beat back this scourge. Schumer cited a recently released CDC report that says life expectancy in the United States has fallen for the second year in a row, the first time it has done so in more than 50 years, and researchers suggest this major public health concern is in part due to the opioid epidemic. In 2016, the rate of drug overdose deaths across the country was 21 percent higher than the rate in 2015. In Westchester and Rockland, overdose deaths skyrocketed by nearly 200 percent. With the looming budget deal in Congress, Schumer said now is the time to push for increased federal funding to better support the federal agencies that are fighting on the front lines of this crisis, like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and are providing the prevention, treatment and recovery service programs that Hudson Valley communities desperately need.

“The opioid crisis in Westchester and Rockland Counties and throughout New York is a national emergency that’s taken the lives of far too many Americans,” said Senator Schumer. “Federal funding, made possible by the 21st Century Cures Act, helps communities combat this national crisis by supporting prevention, treatment and recovery programs that could help us turn the tide against this tragic scourge. As budget deal negotiations continue, I will do everything in my power to secure additional grant funds in New York that could help Westchester and Rockland Counties beat back the opioid epidemic."

According to a report released by the National Center for Health Statistics titled, “Mortality in the United States,” life expectancy in the United States has fallen for the second year in a row. The last time U.S. life expectancy dropped for two years in a row was in the 1960s. According to the report, U.S. life expectancy fell from 78.7 in 2015 to 78.6 in 2016; this follows a drop from 78.9 in 2014.

Researchers suggest the opioid epidemic has contributed to the drop in life expectancy. A separate report conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics titled, “Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States,” says that the rate of drug overdose deaths in 2016 was 21 percent higher than the rate in 2015. Specifically, in 2016 there were more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in the United States, and more than 42,200 of them were attributed to opioids; in 2015 more than 52,400 deaths were attributed to overdoses, and 33,000 of them involved opioids. The rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, doubled between 2015 to 2016, from 3.1 to 6.2 per 100,000.

Schumer said that Westchester and Rockland have not been spared by the drug abuse epidemic. According to the NYS Department of Health in 2016, there were a total of 143 opioid-related deaths throughout the counties, which was 94 more incidents than 2015. In addition to this, 68 deaths were related to heroin in 2016, and 105 were related to pain killers. Schumer said those numbers could have been higher if not for the increased use of the life-saving antidote, naloxone.

With the federal budget deal looming in Congress, Schumer said that now is the time to fight for an increase in funds to combat opioid addiction in New York State. Specifically, Schumer pointed to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grants provided under the 21st Century CURES Act. These grants are provided to each state to help combat the opioid crisis. The pot of funding is administered through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and supports prevention, treatment, and recovery service programs.

In Fiscal Year 2017, $485 million in Opioid Crisis Grants were awarded to states across the country. Of that, New York State received $25 million. Schumer said that, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the economic cost of the opioid epidemic was $504 billion in 2015.

Schumer was joined by Mayor Tom Roach, Public Safety Commissioner David Chong, and White Plains Police Chief Anne Fitzsimmons. Schumer was also joined by Somers, NY resident, Stephanie Keegan. The Putnam County mother of three boys lost her son, Daniel, on January 7th, 2016, at the age of 28. Her son Daniel Keegan served his country as a member of the 82nd Airborne, deploying to Afghanistan twice. He was named Soldier of the Year for the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg in 2009 and served as an Intelligence Analyst for the 7th SFG. Outside of his military accolades Daniel's was known to be an intelligent, vivacious, and kind man throughout his 28 years. According to his parents, Stephanie and Andrew, he was a quintessential son to have, a friend to all of those around him, and a blessing to those that knew him. However, after being diagnosed with a severe case of PTSD, Daniel fought the demons of war for over a year and overdosed on January 7th 2016, while waiting to begin treatment at the local Veterans Affairs Hospital, and left behind broken heart of all that knew him.

“The opioid epidemic has affected every community in Westchester County. Last year, the City of White Plains launched the CLEAR program to proactively provide a? resource for individuals in our community who have chosen to receive help in the form rehabilitation. We are grateful that Senator Schumer is working in lock step with us in this battle as he calls for increasing federal funding to help provide services and research to better address this national epidemic," said White Plains Mayor Tom Roach.

Schumer said, as Senate Minority Leader, he will do everything in his power to fight for an increase in opioid crisis grant funds for New York State. Schumer said that the Hudson Valley including Westchester and Rockland Counties, in particular, depend on the upcoming budget deal to beat back its opioid scourge and that organizations in the Hudson Valley could use the funds for prevention and treatment programs throughout the borough.