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Sununu: New Hampshire ‘brain power’ can solve opioid crisis

  • Gov. Chris Sununu as an Executive Councilor listens during the Council meeting in Concord on June 29, 2016. AP file



Associated Press
Friday, March 31, 2017

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said New Hampshire has the “brain power” it needs to solve the opioid crisis and pledged on Friday to do his part to break down regulations that may be slowing the state’s response.

“The way it’s done today doesn’t have to be the way it’s done tomorrow,” Sununu said at a meeting of the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery.

The commission is tasked with finding innovative approaches to tackling the crisis, which took nearly 500 lives from overdoses last year. Although it’s called the “governor’s commission,” it’s been rare for a chief executive to actually attend a meeting since the group was created in 2000, Chair Tym Rourke said. The commission includes doctors, state health, corrections and law enforcement officials, treatment and recovery providers and other experts.

Simply focusing on reducing the number of overdose deaths won’t solve the problem, Sununu said, adding it’s critical to make sure the state has a qualified and well-paid workforce for treatment and recovery services.

“You can have the best programs ... but if you have no one to hire, it’s not going to work,” he said.

Sununu said he is willing to cut regulatory barriers to licensing workers and treatment facilities and said the Trump administration is open to cutting red tape, too. He urged commission members to give him specific regulations that are slowing things down.

“Think a little bit out of the box,” Sununu said. “Let us know what those exceptions need to be.”

Sununu’s budget gave about $12 million over two years to the commission, Rourke said. House budget writers have changed the funding formula slightly, but are still giving the group about the same amount of money, he said.

The group has a list of spending ideas, including public awareness campaigns, increasing pay rates for providers and expanding detox programs.