A U.S. House subcommittee focused on the opioid epidemic in Appalachia during a hearing this morning on Capitol Hill.
The Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management focused on economics - specifically the impact of the opioid crisis on efforts in Appalachia to spur economic development and growth in distressed communities.
Witnesses included representatives from the economic development agency the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
In his statement, ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl said, “opioid abuse poses a major threat to the economic prosperity of Appalachia. It’s not just a public health and public safety issue; it’s an economic development issue.”
He went on to explain that the epidemic not only drains the region of resources, it harms the workforce and hampers any attempts to improve regional economic opportunity.
Gohl suggested the federal government should invest in local organizational resources, and more health care and mental health providers to effectively tackle the epidemic.
A federal report issued recently estimated the opioid epidemic cost Americans $504 billion dollars in 2015.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Marshall Health, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.