Anna Sheffer
May 03, 2019 11:47 am

Two of the biggest—and most ignored—issues affecting Americans today are substance abuse and mental illness. Depression diagnoses have increased over the past several years, and opioid addiction is on the rise. Which is why Senator Amy Klobuchar—2020 presidential hopeful—is addressing mental health and substance abuse issues in her latest policy proposal.

The New York Times reports that today, May 3rd, Klobuchar unveiled a $100 billion plan to help curb addiction rates and improve mental health care. The Minnesota Democrat’s proposal is split into three prongs: prevention, treatment, and “ongoing recovery.” If passed, it would fund mental health and addiction programs at schools, implement opioid prescription monitoring at doctor’s offices, add beds in mental health clinics, and make sure that insurance plans cover mental health care (currently a requirement under Obamacare).

Klobuchar’s plan also seeks to fund job training for recovering addicts and would do away with the incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders. De-stigmatizing substance abuse and mental illness is also a priority for the candidate, and her plan includes campaigns to raise awareness about these issues.

The senator’s plans to fund this policy are also unique. A Medium post written by her team explains that to fund these changes, drug manufacturers would be charged a two-cent fee for every milligram of “active opioid ingredient” in a pain medication. The idea, according to the post, is to “make opioid manufacturers pay their fair share to fix the crisis they helped create by crafting a Master Settlement Agreement that provides money directly to the states for the cost of addiction treatment and social services.” Funding would also be obtained by taxing hedge fund managers on investment earnings.

Klobuchar has a personal connection to these problems. Her father struggled with alcoholism, a fact that she discussed during the Kavanaugh hearings in September. On the May 3rd episode of CBS This Morningthe senator explained how her father’s battle with addiction informed her proposal.

People struggling with addiction and mental illness deserve a chance, and this proposal could be a huge step in the right direction. We hope that the other 2020 candidates are taking note.

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