Klobuchar Calls for More Funding for Addiction, Mental Health Treatment

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., holds up her hand to speak as she shares a note with a colleague during a Senate Judiciary Committee markup meeting on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

MINNEAPOLIS (CN) — Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar laid out her plan Friday to treat America’s drug addiction crisis and prioritize mental health while opening up about her own experiences with alcoholism.

Addiction is nothing new to Klobuchar, the Minnesota senator and presidential hopeful said in a statement on her plan to combat addiction and address mental health.

“My own story is like a lot of families’ stories – my dad struggled with alcoholism when I was growing up,”Klobuchar said. “I love my dad. I saw him climb the highest mountains but also sink to the lowest valleys because of his battle.” 

After three DWIs, Klobuchar said he eventually went into treatment, and in his own words, was “pursued by grace.”

Klobuchar’s plan focuses on prevention and treatment, such as promoting early intervention in mental health disorders and drug use. She would expand funding for states to detect and respond to these concerns, including mental health programming and resources for schools. The initiative would also include resources to community drug early-intervention programs.

“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. I believe everyone should have the same opportunity my dad had to be pursued by grace and get the treatment and help they need,” she said.

Klobuchar said she will also lead initiatives for state governments to pass ignition interlock laws to discourage repeat DWI offenders.

In 2017, approximately 21 million needed substance use treatment, but less than 20% of people were able to access treatment, according to the senator. Under Sen. Klobuchar’s plan, the number of beds available in mental health and substance use centers would increase to allow increased access.

She estimates that her proposed plan would cost $100 billion. To offset these costs, she would place a 2 cent fee on each milligram of active ingredient in a prescription pain pill paid by the manufacturer or importer. She also would make opioid manufacturers — who marketed the addictive painkillers — enter into a settlement contracts that would force them to directly pay the states for the cost of addiction treatment and social services.

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