Gov. Christie Announces $200 Million Plan to Fight Opioid Epidemic

Opioid Plan Includes $36 Million for Housing and Support for Adults with Substance Abuse Disorders

This week, Governor Chris Christie will announce initiatives totaling a $200 million investment addressing New Jersey’s opioid crisis. On September 15, 2017 Christie gave an interview to NJ Advance Media in which he discussed what the paper calls his “Final push on the issue he hopes will define his legacy.”

The over two-dozen newly funded initiatives will target under-served populations specifically the uninsured, individuals receiving Medicaid, addicted mothers and babies born with addiction. The initiatives will be funded through eight separate state agencies.

Christie said that this new funding puts a new focus on what he called “sustained sobriety.” This focus will be achieved “By standardizing data collection and building seamless channels for holistic care for addicts through incentive-based programs that reward providers who focus on the long-term.”

“It’s changing the way we do this stuff to evidence-based treatment,” Christie said. “You say your methods are great, every treatment center out there says they’ve got the right way to handle it. Well, prove it.”

The new initiatives include:

  • About $40 million will go toward establishing an incentive-based treatment program for those without insurance or on Medicaid.
  • The Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services will use $36 million to provide housing and support for adults with substance abuse disorders.
  • Nearly $35 million will go toward several programs supporting opioid addicted mothers, their babies and broader families.
  • The recovery coach program, which pairs recovering addicts with recent overdose survivors, will be expanded to every county in New Jersey for $21 million.

The numbers around New Jersey’s opioid crisis are staggering. NJ Advance Media estimates that opioids resulted in over 2,000 deaths in 2016.

“I said I don’t want you to worry about money, and I want you to come back to me with a wish list,” Christie said, referring to his cabinet and senior policy. “It’s probably about $200 million worth of spending, but it’s stuff that needs to be done.”

“Perhaps most notably, Christie said he hopes to soon get New Jersey a waiver from the Medicaid provision barring the federal health program from covering inpatient treatment at most facilities.

‘Once we get the waiver, I’ll be very public about it. And I think there will be lots of other governors who, if they haven’t applied for the waiver already, will,’ he said. ‘That will open up, literally, tens of thousands of beds across the country.’”

Christie defended the added expense of eliminating the Institutes for Mental Disease Exclusion saying

“The deaths in 2016 (nationally) are going to be about 64,000,” Christie said. “Every three weeks we have a 9/11 due to drug overdoses in this country. Are you really willing to put up with that level of death, to have 17 9/11s a year? I’m not.”

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