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Erie County legislator seeks $1 million more for addiction treatment

Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke, D-Buffalo, submitted a proposal to the Legislature Thursday asking that $1 million from county savings be transferred to the county Health Department and earmarked for expanded drug treatment.

More specifically, Burke said the one-time expenditure should go toward making more treatment beds available to addicts who are uninsured and underinsured. No one should be denied access to opioid addiction treatment because of cost, he said.

"I have heard from addicts and families who are desperate for help, but who have limited access for treatment," he said, describing a case where a family drove from one treatment center to the next searching for an open bed.

Over the past eight days, 17 people are suspected to have died of opioid drug overdoses, according to the Erie County Health Department, including seven people who are believed to have died from a particularly fatal batch of drugs.

Burke's resolution was referred to the Health and Human Services Committee and included co-sponsors from Democratic legislators Peter Savage, Betty Jean Grant and Majority Leader Thomas Loughran.

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