Senators Shaheen and Hassan address Trump budget's 'assault' on NH's opioid epidemic
CONCORD — Sen. Jeanne Shaheen at a press conference with Sen. Maggie Hassan on Friday called President Donald Trump's proposed budget and possible cuts to drug abuse services an "assault on New Hampshire."
The senators analyzed how the new budget plan would limit or eliminate essential programs in New Hampshire that are used to fight the drug epidemic.
Shaheen opened her remarks with her view on how budgets are "more than a statement about revenues and expenditures, it's also a reflection of our values."
"Unfortunately, President Trump's budget does not reflect New Hampshire's values," Shaheen said. "This budget will impose draconian cuts to public services that millions of Americans rely on, including education, job training, and health care."
Shaheen said many programs have been instituted already that are working to slow down and stop the spread of illicit drugs in the Granite State, but she worries about how the new budget would hurt such programs.
"I am particularly disturbed to see cuts to critical programs that are integral to our efforts to combat the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis that is devastating our communities and taking a toll on our economy," Shaheen said.
Shaheen specifically focused on how the new budget would affect Medicaid.
"The expansion of Medicaid has been a vital tool in our fight against the opioid epidemic," Shaheen said. "It provides coverage for over 186,000 Granite Staters, many being children.
"On the campaign trail, Candidate Trump pledged not to cut Medicaid, yet in his first budget, President Trump proposes a staggering $1.4 trillion cut to Medicaid over the next 10 years. This will affect those treated for substance abuse disorders around New Hampshire.
"The Trump budget is an assault on New Hampshire, on our people, our economy, on our environment [...] I intend to fight this budget in any way I can."
Hassan reiterated how she felt the budget would further affect the fight against addiction.
"We know we have to do more for those struggling (with addiction) and those trying to defeat this epidemic," Hassan said. "But President Trump's proposed budget does exactly the opposite of that."
Hassan said Trump's budget would "cut Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration by $372 million dollars."
SAMHSA programs aim to stop and prevent substance misuse at state and regional levels, and these cuts could affect the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant program.
The budget "cuts millions from the high intensity drug trafficking area programs, those have been critical programs where our law enforcement partners with federal agencies to go after the dealers who are bringing these awful, illicit substances into our state," Hassan said.
Hassan and other speakers at the conference spoke on different aspects of the budget and how it affected areas such as Planned Parenthood and public education. A full video of the press conference can be found on the NH1 Facebook page.