No single party is responsible for the opioid epidemic that ravages our country, and no single solution will stop it. Ending this crisis is going to take a concerted effort that will come about through listening to a variety of stakeholders.
Unfortunately, the Minnesota Legislature seemed to ignore the importance of the community’s voice when they considered legislation earlier this year that levied a blanket tax on all opioids distributed into the state – a move that sought nothing more than a revenue stream for the state government.
Those who supported this tax failed to acknowledge the serious consequences such a tax could have passed on to patients, caregivers, and the overall healthcare supply chain. It could have caused significantly higher medical costs, far more limited access to care, and critical medicine shortages for people in dire need.
Fighting this addiction should be a top priority for lawmakers in this upcoming session, but they need to move away from misguided tax policies. They should instead focus on solutions that reverse the epidemic by decreasing the demand for opioid products. Such measures should involve preventing over-prescription, educating patients on the dangers of opioid use, supporting alternative pain treatment options, and promoting safe disposal of unused medications.
Marjorie Holsten is an attorney and lives in Maple Grove.