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Klobuchar releases $100B substance abuse, mental health plan

Amy Klobuchar - AP image

Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar has released a plan to spend $100 billion over a decade to improve mental health care and fight substance abuse.

Posted: May 3, 2019 6:55 AM
Updated: May 3, 2019 8:15 AM

CHICAGO (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar has released a plan to spend $100 billion over a decade to improve mental health care and fight substance abuse, an issue the Minnesota senator has faced firsthand as the daughter of an alcoholic who struggled with addiction for years before getting sober.

The wide-ranging plan, released Friday, includes funding for early intervention of mental health disorders and drug use, a national suicide prevention campaign, better access to opioid addiction and other types of treatment and recruitment of health care workers to underserved rural areas and cities with the highest need.

Klobuchar also says that as president she would prioritize mental health and substance abuse treatment over incarceration for nonviolent offenders, noting she supported drug courts as an alternative to jail when she was the lead prosecutor of Minnesota's largest county.

Klobuchar, who announced her 2020 campaign in February, speaks often about her father's alcoholism and the impact it had on her life, and she says it's one of the issues she hears most about from people as she campaigns for the Democratic nomination in a crowded field of candidates . She says her father got "real treatment" after his third arrest for driving while intoxicated. He has remained sober with support from friends, family and his faith, what he calls being "pursued by grace," she says.

"The one thing I hear over and over again across the country is people's stories of battling with mental health and addiction — people need help, but they just can't get it," she says. "I believe everyone should have the same opportunity my dad had to be pursued by grace and get the treatment and help they need."

The $100 billion would come largely from opioid manufacturers, with Klobuchar saying the companies should be held responsible for helping create the country's opioid crisis. The plan would provide considerably more money than previous drug abuse efforts — the opioid bill President Donald Trump signed last year provided $6 billion over two years — but relies on the passage of new legislation and approval of a massive legal settlement that's not yet in the works.

Klobuchar would impose a new fee of 2 cents per milligram of the active ingredient in a prescription pain pill, which she says would be paid by the manufacturer or the importer and provide a permanent revenue stream for her plan. The pharmaceutical industry pushed back against a similar proposal in New York, saying it would lead to higher prices for consumers. Klobuchar's plan would exempt the fee on some opioids, such as those used in cancer treatment.

Klobuchar also is proposing a master settlement agreement between the drugmakers and state and local governments that have sued them, a deal that would be similar to the 1998 tobacco settlement between states and the nation's five largest cigarette manufacturers.

Klobuchar's suicide prevention program would include campaigns targeted toward veterans, farmers, LGBTQ people and tribal communities, which all see suicide rates higher than average.

She wants better enforcement of laws requiring health insurance companies to cover mental illnesses and substance use disorders the way they cover physical illnesses, and she would increase access to medication-assisted treatment in federal and state prisons to help inmates safely detox from opioids and stay clean.

Klobuchar's background also played a role in her questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last year, a moment that helped raise her national profile.

Klobuchar asked Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman years earlier when they were in high school, whether he ever had had so much to drink that he didn't remember what happened. Kavanaugh, who denied the assault allegation, turned the question around, asking Klobuchar, "Have you?"

Klobuchar continued, unruffled, as Kavanaugh asked again. Kavanaugh later apologized to Klobuchar.

"When you have a parent who's an alcoholic, you're pretty careful about drinking," she said. "I was truly trying to get to the bottom of the facts and the evidence."

Klobuchar will promote her plan during campaign stops Friday in Detroit, where she will speak to a group of African American local government leaders, and in upcoming visits to Iowa and New Hampshire.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 97638

Reported Deaths: 2067
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin27372932
Ramsey11088322
Dakota7635126
Anoka6238137
Stearns407724
Washington388355
Scott262533
Olmsted251928
Nobles197716
Blue Earth17266
Wright16957
St. Louis165941
Carver14377
Clay141741
Rice13438
Mower13425
Sherburne116914
Kandiyohi10552
Winona91318
Lyon7224
Waseca6898
Benton5603
Crow Wing55518
Steele5552
Freeborn5464
Nicollet54517
Watonwan5304
Chisago5131
Todd5042
McLeod5012
Le Sueur4744
Otter Tail4624
Beltrami4505
Martin43010
Goodhue3829
Itasca34715
Pine3430
Douglas3372
Polk3224
Isanti3151
Becker2812
Carlton2761
Morrison2682
Dodge2570
Pipestone23210
Cottonwood2280
Chippewa2231
Meeker2132
Wabasha2020
Sibley1993
Brown1962
Yellow Medicine1902
Cass1844
Redwood1773
Rock1760
Murray1722
Mille Lacs1693
Renville1578
Unassigned15452
Jackson1491
Faribault1470
Swift1441
Fillmore1330
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Kanabec1278
Roseau1250
Koochiching1233
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Grant634
Lake600
Norman540
Marshall531
Mahnomen491
Red Lake451
Traverse340
Clearwater280
Lake of the Woods231
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 86860

Reported Deaths: 1315
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk16010262
Woodbury555467
Johnson517027
Black Hawk450990
Linn4101113
Story346217
Dubuque333241
Scott304528
Dallas280738
Pottawattamie215939
Buena Vista199912
Marshall179134
Sioux16803
Wapello134057
Webster128014
Plymouth116121
Clinton113021
Muscatine112155
Crawford11005
Cerro Gordo105921
Warren9666
Jasper86432
Des Moines8008
Marion7697
Henry7554
Tama73932
Carroll6855
Lee6437
Wright5961
Dickinson5306
Boone5178
Bremer5027
Washington47211
Louisa43115
Delaware4233
Mahaska41519
Floyd3543
Jackson3523
Franklin35118
Lyon3514
Winneshiek3406
Clay3344
Hamilton3323
Benton3281
Winnebago31713
Hardin3071
Poweshiek3078
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Jones2843
Kossuth2800
Butler2752
Emmet27010
Clarke2683
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Sac2650
Clayton2633
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Guthrie2527
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Madison2272
Grundy2243
Iowa2161
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Hancock1952
Howard1927
Humboldt1913
Mitchell1910
Calhoun1873
Mills1831
Page1710
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Monona1601
Monroe16011
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