White House report: Opioid crisis cost taxpayers $504 billion

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A new White House report says the true cost of the opioid drug crisis in 2015 for U.S. taxpayers was a staggering $504 billion.

In the report released today, the Council of Economic Advisors said the figure is more than six times larger than the most recent estimate in 2013. It adds that the opioid epidemic has also led to an increase in criminal justice spending and a decrease in worker productivity.

Drug treatment expert Steven Chassman says it's not surprising that a big part of the multibillion-dollar cost is attributed to health care. He says inadequate in-patient stays for those battling opioid abuse are contributing to the costs.

"Over the last 10 years, we've seen insurance companies who have a fiduciary interest limiting the amount of treatment stay," he says.

In a statement, the CEO of the Long Island Association said, "The opioid crisis is harming our families as well as our economy, and the White House's report is further evidence that we need a stronger and more collaborative effort to address this issue."

Last month, President Donald Trump declared opioid abuse a national public health emergency. He announced an advertising campaign to fight what he says is the worst drug crisis in the nation's history, but he stopped short of directing new federal funding toward the problem.

Drug treatment experts are hoping the new White House report will change that.

"We're hoping that with the economic impact, with the human toll, that this will truly foster a national response that is adequate in measure to the crisis," Chassman says.

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