Governor Haslam Unveils Opioid Plan

Posted at 1:07 PM, Jan 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-22 20:14:11-05

 Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam unveiled a sweeping plan to combat the state's opioid epidemic Monday. The $25 million plan is called TN Together.

The plan will focus on prevention, treatment, and law enforcement.

"I don't have to tell anyone in this room this epidemic knows no boundaries, it doesn't know political parties, or race or income," Haslam said. "It effects families all across our state."

Haslam said the prevention phase will include a statewide awareness campaign, K through 12 drug curriculum in schools, and limit on opioid prescriptions.

That limit will mean doctors can only prescribe a five day supply of opioids, with a few exceptions.

A new commission will also compile standards for treating pain, which will then be taught in Tennessee medical schools.

Haslam said a majority of the plan emphasizes treatment.

He hopes to create and strengthen public-private partnerships with existing treatment programs, give drug courts more resources, and help inmates struggling with addiction reach recovery to reduce recidivism.

But some say the plan doesn't go far enough.

"Tennessee is literally drowning in opiates. We have more prescriptions than almost any state in the country and we're in the top ten for deaths,' said Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D). "This is a time for bold action. I think there's some things that are included in this proposal that everyone supports, but this is a modest step that doesn't do anything close to what we need if we want to stop in the tracks this epidemic that's hurting families and communities across our state."

Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) released the following statement on the plan:

“I am proud to support the comprehensive Tennessee Together plan to attack the opioid crisis in Tennessee. This scourge is breaking up families, ruining lives and killing our people.

The approach Governor Haslam outlined today demonstrates the united commitment by all three branches of Tennessee state government to confront this threat. The three-legged stool of enforcement, treatment and prevention will stop the flow of these drugs in our state, help those ravaged by addiction and work to prevent our citizens from starting down the road to addiction.

We are confronting this crisis from all sides and from all angles. I strongly believe this legislative package will yield results both in the near term and in the long term as we continue to battle this problem in Tennessee.”