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Jay Inslee
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Gov. Inslee lays out plan for Washington opioid crisis


Governor Jay Inslee announced his policy and budget priorities related to Washington state’s opioid crisis on Monday afternoon.

RELATED: Gov. Inslee proposes $1.1 billion budget to aid orcas

Opioid deaths are currently the leading cause of accidental deaths in Washington. To that end, the governor’s proposed 2019-21 budget calls for $10.7 million for prevention, and an additional $19.3 million for treatment and recovery efforts.

Inslee laid out the state’s plan in a press conference Monday afternoon, with proposals for measures like a 16-bed facility for pregnant women and mothers so they can live with their children while receiving treatment, and a new “Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion” program outside of King County.

Additionally, Inslee’s budget would establish a statewide “hub-and spoke opioid treatment network,” that includes treatment programs, nurse care managers embedded with medical practices and jails, and facility hubs where staff can prescribe addiction treatment drugs.

This comes on the heels of recent data from the Washington State Department of Health, that reported deaths related to fentanyl overdoses were up nearly 70 percent over last year.

Fentanyl is currently found in counterfeit pills made to look like prescription opiates like oxycodone. The risk comes from the fact that fentanyl is anywhere from 30 to 50 times as strong as pure heroin, and “a dose the size of a few grains of salt can be fatal to an average-size person.”

The reasoning for dealers and illicit importers is simple: Profit.

“It’s much more efficient to ship in fentanyl than it is to ship in heroin. Fentanyl is 30 times more potent than heroin — that means to get the same number of people high, you only have to ship in one-thirtieth the amount,” Caleb Banta-Green, the principle research scientist at UW’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, told MyNorthwest when the report was released in early-December.

Inslee’s proposed state budget would be for $54.4 billion, for what would be approximately a 20 percent total increase. It also includes funding for the recovery of the state’s endangered orca population, combating climate change, shuffling Washington’s mental health system, and more.

RELATED: 70 percent increase in fentanyl deaths doesn’t tell whole story

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