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Poloncarz says White House cuts to opioid programs would be "unfathomable double-cross"

Erie County leaders expressed alarm and outrage Saturday over a report by National Public Radio on Friday that the Trump administration is thinking about gutting several federal programs aimed at fighting the opioid drug crisis. NPR reported on a leaked draft document from the White House budget office that drastically cuts funding to the Office of National Drug Control Policy by 94 percent.

"These proposed cuts are outrageous, unacceptable and staggering in their cold-hearted disregard for human life," Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said. "No community can handle the fight against opioid abuse on its own, and having the federal government pull the rug out from under us is an unfathomable double-cross from the White House."

Erie County has earmarked hundreds of thousands of dollars toward fighting the opioid epidemic, which has claimed county lives at a rate of more than one a day this year. If such cuts are adopted, county officials say, many more people will die.

"In the face of our deadly opioid crisis, expansion of public health resources is critical, and cut backs will result in escalating numbers of opioid overdose deaths," said Health Commissioner Gale Burstein. "We need to expand our efforts rather than limit vital resources."

“We took the president at his word when he said he was going to increase funding for the fight against opioids, but this proposal reveals that he will do the opposite by almost completely eliminating it," Poloncarz said. "This heartless proposal is a slap in the face to the countless families nationwide who’ve lost a loved one to opioid abuse."


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