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Schumer pushes for more federal help to fight addiction crisis

Ellen Abbott

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says he wants to supercharge funds earmarked in the fight against the opioid and drug addiction crisis.

Schumer visited Helio Health’s Regional Addiction Treatment Center in Syracuse this week to announce the move, in light of the latest statistics that show the devastation of the crisis. A record 186 Onondaga County residents died last year following opioid overdoses, in most cases fueled by fentanyl, amounting to one death every other day.

Schumer said he wants to increase a federal pot of money that focuses on prevention, treatment, and addiction recovery efforts.

"I’m gonna work hard to get an increase of 3.2 billion dollars in funding for the kinds of programs Helio runs," Schumer said. "That will bring the total to 42 billion dollars. I’m going to work to get this done in the upcoming budget which we’re doing this summer"

Schumer expects bipartisan support on the plan and has spoken to the White House about it.

“I’ve already spoken to the White House about my intention," Schumer said. "I’m confident this is not one of these issues that will be in the partisan maw, we can get bipartisan support for it, so I’m optimistic I can get this done.”

Helio Health CEO Jeremy Klemanski said this will help his organization as it continues to grow. It is in the midst of a third round of expansions, and is trying to get its programs into schools across the area, so far reaching 17.

"We’re being contacted by school districts in the region asking, can we go there next," Klemanski said. "So this new funding, which makes our agency stronger, makes it more likely we can say yes, we can get programs into those schools."

Schumer said the fatal overdose numbers could hover in record ranges for years, if the Feds don’t come up with the money to help.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.