Elizabeth Warren proposes paying for an ambitious plan to spend $100 billion fighting the opioid crisis with her new tax on the ultra-rich

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate, reintroduced her ambitious legislation to fight the opioid epidemic on Wednesday.
  • Funding would be sent to states, territories, tribal governments, local governments, and nonprofits based largely on the severity of the crises affecting them.
  • The money would support a whole range of services – including early intervention, addiction treatment, mental-health care, and housing support.
  • Warren will lay out her plan during campaign stops this week in West Virginia and Ohio – two states hit hard by the crisis.
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate, reintroduced her ambitious legislation to fight the opioid epidemic on Wednesday, ahead of campaign stops in West Virginia and Ohio – two states hit hard by the crisis.

Warren first introduced the bill, the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, with Rep. Elijah Cummings last year.

Funding would be delivered to states, territories, tribal governments, local governments, and nonprofits based largely on the severity of the crises affecting them. The money would support a whole range of services – including early intervention, addiction treatment, mental-health care, and housing support.

Warren says she would fund the plan through her “ultra-millionaire tax” on the 75,000 richest Americans. Warren’s team estimates the tax will raise $2.75 trillion in revenue – enough to fund her universal childcare plan and her free public college and student debt-cancellation proposal, in addition to the opioid effort.

“If the CARE Act becomes law, every single person would get the care they need,” Warren wrote in a Medium post. “The nation’s top experts on the crisis stand behind it. It spells out in detailed terms exactly how funding would get to the communities that need it most. We should pass it – not in two years, not after the 2020 elections – but immediately.”

Warren, whose home state is dealing with an opioid death rate that is far above the national average, will lay out her plan during a community events and town halls in West Virginia and Ohio on Friday and Saturday. West Virginia’s overdose rate is between eight and 10 times higher than the national average, while Ohio’s is one of the highest in the country.

But moving the bill forward will be an uphill battle: Last year’s version didn’t win majority support in the House – 81 members signed on to it last year – and it didn’t get any cosponsors in the Senate.

Read more: 57% of Americans who’ve already paid off their student loans support Elizabeth Warren’s plan to cancel 42 million Americans’ college debt

A few other 2020 candidates have laid out their visions for how to deal with the epidemic.

Earlier this month, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced her own $100 billion plan to fight drug and alcohol addiction and improve mental-health care across the country. Andrew Yang, a tech entrepreneur and 2020 candidate, supports decriminalizing opioids for personal use as a way to direct more Americans to treatment, and keep them out of jail.

The Trump administration has ramped up efforts to address the crisis, directing more money to fight various facets of the issue than President Barack Obama’s administration did. And First Lady Melania Trump has made the issue central to her East Wing agenda. As of October of last year, the Trump administration had gathered $6 billion to address the issue.

Still, experts say the current administration’s efforts aren’t going far enough or moving quickly enough to stem the epidemic.

Overdoses from prescription opioids have killed more than 200,000 Americans over the last two decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 70,000 people died of all drug overdoses – two-thirds of them linked to opioids – in 2017 alone. And deaths from synthetic opioids, largely fentanyl, increased by 45% between 2016 and 2017.