Governor's health proposal heavy on drug treatment

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Gov. Pat McCrory rolled out his plan for fighting issues such as drug abuse in his upcoming state budget.

At the Executive Mansion on Monday afternoon, the governor said he plans to carve out $30 million in the budget to help the state's Mental Health and Substance Abuse Task Force establish his goals.

The governor listed dozens of goals this money will fund. That list includes increasing funding for drug-treatment programs and increased access to the drug naloxone to save those who have overdosed.

In his announcement the governor praised a law enforcement officer for his use of the drug in saving a life. He said that in Guilford County there have already been 24 drug overdoses and five deaths.

"This is a matter of life or death," McCrory said.

The governor also wants to fund emergency housing for those with drug problems transitioning out of hospital and jails.

"Putting an addict in prison accomplishes nothing." McCrory said.

He also plans to allot money in the budget to improve case management work in social programs with children, such as the foster care system.

The governor wants to expand Medicaid services to older adults and those with Alzheimer's.

"Now I realize there are issues regarding Medicaid, my major priority is to help those who can't help themselves and encourage those who can," McCrory said. "That is the philosophy of this campaign, and I've got to make sure all Medicaid dollars are going toward those people who can't help themselves and also those who we encourage to help themselves."

The Democratic Party was critical of the governor's comments on mental health care.

"When it comes to quality mental health care, North Carolina patients deserve more than campaign-year rhetoric," said North Carolina Democratic Party Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds. "The fact is, Governor McCrory has spent three years cutting vital funds and turning down federal funding for Medicaid expansion that would provide care for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians.

"Now McCrory suggests that instead of offering quality mental health care, the state can simply ask sick people to 'help themselves,'" Reynolds added. "That's a vapid, election-year plan that makes absolutely no sense."

He also plans to expand Medicaid services to families with children with disabilities, such as autism.

Other parts of the budget plan will go to increasing slots for Pre-K and in continuing the fight against the Zika virus. He pointed out that North Carolina is one of the few states in the nation that is able to even test for the virus.

Monday's announcement comes as the governor continues to roll out his plan for his proposed budget that will then go before the General Assembly when its short session begins. Last week he talked about his plans for education.

As far as HB2, McCrory mentioned that briefly. He said he would not talk about that during his healthcare announcement but plans to say something about it Tuesday.

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