<p>Committee Vetoes Overdose Prevention Funding; OD Remains Leading Cause of Accidental Death in State</p>
Last Friday, California’s Assembly Appropriations committee chairman Mike Gatto chose to hold Assemblymember Richard Bloom’s overdose prevention funding bill, AB 831, in committee, effectively killing it for this year. Procedurally the bill remains in committee and could be moved forward in a year.
AB 831 sought a modest appropriation of $500,000 to fund a grants program for new and existing overdose prevention programs throughout the state. Accidental drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in California, yet no state funds have been allocated to tackle the problem.
"I was very disappointed that the committee didn't move the bill forward, but I am not done fighting for a public health policy to protect families from losing a loved one to drug overdose. It's too important,” said AB 831 author, Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica).
“This is a significant disappointment for grieving families and overdose prevention advocates throughout the state, “ said Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, sponsors of the bill. “This lack of support for funding efforts to address the number one cause of accidental death in California is discouraging but advocates will keep fighting.”
Overdose prevention advocates expressed anger and dismay at the failure of the bill to clear the Appropriations committee.
“This is outrageous,” said Gretchen Burns Bergman, founder of A New PATH, which works with parents who have lost children to overdose. “It’s a little beyond the pale that our politicians always say the right things about wanting to do something to help save lives and deal with the overdose crisis, but when given an opportunity to make a real difference, they shrug their shoulders and walk away. This is the number one cause of accidental death in California. I am completely outraged that the California Legislature refused to spend a dime on the leading cause of accidental death in our state.”
AB 831 sought a modest appropriation of $500,000 from the 2014-15 California general fund budget to fund a grants program for new and existing overdose prevention programs throughout the state. The bill additionally would have convened a temporary state task force to study the complexity of the state’s overdose problem and make recommendations for how to address the problem from all angles. The bill had a variety of supporters, including the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, the Health Officers Association of California, the California Medical Association and parents’ groups. There was not one group listed in opposition.