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PNS Weekend Newscast - September 23rd, 2017 


Here's a look at what we're covering: Senator John McCain says no to the GOP's health care plan, a new survey takes a look at how residents in one state feel about the effort to real Obamacare, and International Day of Peace is being celebrated this weekend.

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As NC Fights Opioid Epidemic, Could Congress Dismantle Progress?

Just as North Carolina increases efforts to fight opioid abuse, Congress could take steps to reduce funding. (Innocent Coppieters/Flickr)
Just as North Carolina increases efforts to fight opioid abuse, Congress could take steps to reduce funding. (Innocent Coppieters/Flickr)
July 5, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. - Gov. Roy Cooper and his administration recently have initiated large-scale attempts to curb opioid abuse in North Carolina.

The governor announced the state's new action plan to more closely regulate painkillers as part of last week's Opioid Misuse and Overdose Prevention Summit.

At the same time, people such as Mandy Cohen, North Carolina's secretary of Health and Human Services, are concerned about the potential loss of health insurance and funding for treatment programs if the U.S. Senate's "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017" makes it through Congress. Cohen said it would negate steps toward progress.

"Anything that puts us in a worse place in terms of insurance coverage is going to make fighting this epidemic even harder," she said, "because we know treatment is such a critical component of getting our arms around this epidemic."

The legislation, intended to replace the Affordable Care Act, would cut funding for mental-health and addiction care for thousands of North Carolinians. According to the state, 12,000 residents have lost their lives to opioid overdoses since 1999, and the death rate rose 20 percent between 2015 and 2016.

Cohen pointed to extensive research that says addiction is a disease in need of treatment, in a category with other pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. For that reason, she said, she's concerned about the millions projected to lose health coverage in the Senate bill.

"It would absolutely be a terrible direction for our state, and I don't think anyone would be surprised as the health official for North Carolina, I want to make sure that we are building a healthier state," she said. "A critical piece of that health is access to insurance coverage."

Nationwide, drug overdoses killed more than 60,000 Americans last year, more than car accidents or gun violence.

Information from the opioid summit is online at governor.nc.gov.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC