Porter: Indiana should not dawdle on opioid lawsuit

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis), ranking Democrat on the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee, has issued the following statement on Indiana’s potential participation in legal efforts to secure accountability in stopping opioid abuse:

“According to the federal government, more than 70,000 Americans died from drug addiction in 2017.

“Across the country, local units of government—states, counties, cities, and Native American tribes—have decided that something must be done to address one critical cause of this death toll: the modern day scourge of opioid abuse.

“Starting in 2017, these units began to band together to pursue litigation against those who manufacture and sell prescription opioids for actions that many feel are inappropriate. Their vehicle is a class action lawsuit that has been filed in Cleveland, Ohio. A trial on this matter could come as early as next year.

“A number of counties, cities, and towns across Indiana have decided to take part in this effort. Our state government has not.

“That fact might strike people as a little odd, considering the length to which our governor has said that attacking the opioid epidemic is part of his agenda. Given that his plan of attack focuses on three parts—prevention, treatment, and enforcement—it might be logical to think that our state should also consider accountability as a proper way to stop opioid abuse.

“To date, our attorney general has only ‘retained’ an out-of-state law firm on a contingency basis to make a ‘determination’ if Indiana should participate on any litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors. The attorney general entered into that agreement last February, but we have heard nothing since then.

“While he dawdles on fighting opioid abuse, the attorney general is only too willing to join other states in trying to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. If these efforts succeed, more than 400,000 Hoosiers could lose coverage provided through HIP 2.0 AND another 2.7 million Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions could lose coverage as well.

“AND, to make it even more ironic, if the attorney general’s efforts against the Affordable Care Act succeed, those suffering from opioid addiction could lose coverage for residential treatment of that addiction, which is a key part of the newest updates of HIP 2.0.

“Two questions must be asked.

“Why should the state of Indiana waste more time on misguided, knee-jerk reactions on the Affordable Care Act that will only result in people losing insurance coverage?

“Why aren’t the governor and the attorney general interested in sending a clear message that opioid addiction must be fought on all fronts, including in the courtrooms of this country, where the companies that have played such a heinous role in perpetuating the opioid epidemic can finally be held accountable?”

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