KDNK News, Scott Tipton, March 14, 2018

Station:   KDNK,  88.1 AM (Carbondale)

Guests:    Tipton

Link:        http://kdnk.org/

Date:        March 14, 2018

Topics:     Opioid Crisis, Heroine abuse, Treatment Centers, Emergency Rooms, Emergency Departments, Urban vs. Rural, Legislature, Governor, Department of Health, Alto Bill

Click Here for Audio

INTERVIEWER AMY HADDEN MARSH: [00:00:00] […] Months ago, and you had cosponsored, I believe, the 21st Century Cures Act that sent money to states to help with opioid treatment. And in a telephone town hall Monday with an aid from your office, local mental health providers found out that most of the money that came to Colorado went to the Denver metro area and not as much came to rural mental health providers on the west slope. And I spoke with one of the mental health providers that was in on that call Monday, and she said the state had earmarked the money for Narcan kits and for only one full time peer recovery coach or a recovery navigator for all 22 counties on the west slope. So, basically what she said was, the state determines what communities needed which didn’t work for the west slope nor was it enough money. You have stated, Congressman Tipton, that you believe working together in partnerships will beat the opioid crisis. My question is: What are you willing to do to ensure that rural community efforts on the west slope are supported by much-needed funding?

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM COLORADO’S THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, SCOTT TIPTON: [00:01:13] You actually made the very case that we’ve been making in Congress to make sure that those dollars are getting to rural America and particularly the Third Congressional District of Colorado. Just recently you had a couple of opioid and heroin abuse roundtables in our district. We were hearing the same story. The dollars that you’re referencing and that were being cited in that meeting did come to the governor, to the state of Colorado for that distribution. And we share that very same concern, that they get gobbled up in the metro area, not flowing out into rural Colorado where our needs are great as well. As we discussed several months ago, two of the hot spots in Colorado for the opioid and heroin abuse, one was in Pueblo, and one was in Delta, Colorado. It isn’t all in just in Denver. We do understand the challenges there. But we do have the problems in our district. To that end, we just had a bill yesterday and we have several more that are going to be coming forward in terms of dealing with the opioid crisis. But it’s called the Alto Bill, and it’s to be able to give some alternatives for opioid treatments when people go into the emergency departments and to be able to have kind of a pilot project in these hospitals to be able to look for different ways to be able to have treatment and avoid potential addiction to opioids. We shared the exact same concerns and are expressing those in our committees and with our leadership, in terms of making those dollars available for rural America and in our instance, for the third congressional district of Colorado. One of the challenges we do have is when dollars do flow back to a state, they’re in the hand of our governor and our state legislature, then, for the distribution. And that’s something that I think we need to be working collaboratively with our metropolitan state legislators and the governor to make sure that rural Colorado is getting the dollars that they need as well.

TIPTON: [00:03:20] Well, when you say “work collaboratively,” can you as a Congressman work with state legislators to ensure that local rural communities are on the receiving end of those monies?

HADDEN-MARSH: [00:03:34] Oh, [I’d be] more than happy to work with any of them, and hope that our urban legislators will recognize that the needs are just as great in rural Colorado as they are in metropolitan areas as well. But we’re more than happy to do that, and to do that outreach.

TIPTON: [00:03:49] Can Congress actually require the state to work with local communities in future legislation — add that to legislation. Yeah, actually you know it’s difficult to be able to break out on a state by state basis, just given the different scenarios in all 50 states that we face. But we do have some language to make sure that the rural areas are going to be addressed. But when we have a block grant, as an example, that’s going to be coming back to the state, it’ll typically go to a Department of Health. And then those determinations are made by the chief executive or the governor of the state and the state legislative process.

HADDEN-MARSH: [00:04:30] According to media reports, President Trump still has not appointed the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, or the drug czar. I in last year’s budget the President recommended cutting the office’s budget by almost 95 percent, which may happen again this year. How do you think this is helping the opioid emergency?

TIPTON: [00:04:50] Well, we’re going to be advocating to make sure that we do have the resources. On the flip side of that, the President did recognize it as a national challenge. And so, it’s going to ultimately be up to Congress to be able to allocate the resources. Each president will propose their budget, but it will be up to Congress and the appropriators to be able to make the actual determination on those resources. We’re going to continue to advocate that this is a crisis, it is impacting our communities, our families. It has no boundaries, in terms of those impacts. And we do need to have the resources not only to deal with treatment, to deal with prevention, but then some of the long-term follow up as well.

HADDEN-MARSH: [00:05:36] But in terms of the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, by not having what we call a drug czar an office, is this helping or hindering efforts?

TIPTON: [00:05:47] No, I think it would be useful, you know, on a number of vacancies that we do have, that it’s the obligation of the executive branch to fill — to be able to expedite those. One of the challenges that they have had are being able to get some of the approvals through the Senate. The House doesn’t participate in some of the confirmations that go on. But it is important, not only to make the nominations but then to make sure that the Senate are moving those nominees forward to fill the positions.

HADDEN-MARSH: [00:06:15] Well, Congressman Tipton, thank you very much for your time.

TIPTON: [00:06:18] Well, thanks a lot, Amy. [It is] always a pleasure to visit with you.