The opioid epidemic has ravaged the country and Michigan is no exception. As the Advance has reported, northern Michigan has been particularly hard hit. Data from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) shows that from 2006 to 2012, Ogemaw County saw an influx of 125.7 pills per person, per year, the most in the state.
Whitmer said the task force will raise public awareness, identify the root causes of the opioid epidemic and implement response actions to help Michiganders struggling with addiction access services to overcome it.
The other members will be: Chief Justice Bridget McCormack or the chief justice’s designee, and the directors or the directors’ designees from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Attorney General; Licensing and Regulatory Affairs; Michigan State Police; Corrections; Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; Insurance and Financial Services; Military and Veterans Affairs; Labor and Economic Opportunity; and Education.
“Too many families have been devastated by the opioid epidemic in Michigan,” said Khaldun. “If we’re going to keep Michiganders safe and healthy, we must get to work addressing this crisis. The team at MDHHS is ready to work with all of our partners in state government to help Michiganders get on the road to recovery and prevent opioid addiction in the first place.”
In March, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Michigan would receive a $10 million to combat opioid overdose deaths. Whitmer and the Michigan Opioid Partnership in June announced $5 million in grants to fight the opioid crisis to Beaumont Hospital in Southeast Michigan, Munson Medical Center in northern Lower Michigan and Wayne State University Center for Behavioral Health and Justice.
“As governor, my No. 1 priority is protecting our families and our overall public health,” said Whitmer. “Right now, Michigan is among the states with the highest levels of opioid prescriptions and overdose deaths, with 2,053 overdoses in 2017 alone. This task force will bring us one step closer to finally ending the opioid epidemic in Michigan and keeping families safe.”
Attorney General Dana Nessel, who is part of a group of attorneys general pushing for the federal government to ease state regulations they say harm people trying to get treatment, praised Whitmer for forming the task force.
“The opioids epidemic has far-reaching implications on Michiganders, our communities and our economy. I applaud Gov. Whitmer for taking a proactive and comprehensive approach to combating this epidemic by creating a task force that gets at the root of this systemic public health crisis,” Nessel said. “Michigan wins when we all work together to tackle challenges and my office stands ready to support the Governor’s efforts and play an active role in this task force.”