Massachusetts governor cuts $150,000 in opioid abuse funds for Lynn

Lynn, Mass., has lost $150,000 in funds to pay a clinician and case manager who work with police to refer hundreds of opioid overdose victims to treatment annually, according The Boston Globe.

The lost funds stem from a $98 million budget cut Gov. Charlie Baker (R) made in December 2016 to close a funding gap. In 2016, the city of Lynn recorded 444 opioid overdoses, which resulted in 50 fatalities. In the same year, the clinician and case manager processed 531 substance abuse and mental health referrals, according to the Globe.

The state allots more than $3.1 million to Lynn for providers of mental health and substance abuse services, the governor's office told the Globe. Additionally, the city reportedly receives $285,000 for prevention efforts and nearly $13,000 for the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone. Gov. Baker's office also said the state provided $489,000 in December to the Lynn police department to pay for staffing and nearly $190,000 in January to fight gang violence.

However, Lynn Deputy Police Chief Lenny Desmarais told the Globe none of the funds provided to the police department can be devoted to the behavioral health unit, which employs the clinician and the case manager.

Speaking of the behavioral health employees, Mr. Desmarais said, "They're trying to save the people who are most at risk of fatally overdosing. And if we don't have them, that outreach isn't going to be there."

As of Feb. 24, eleven people have died of likely opioid overdoses in Lynn since the start of 2017. This number is double the total for the same time period last year, according to the Globe.

More articles on opioids: 
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Virginia governor signs 4 bills aimed to combat opioid epidemic 
Heroin overdose deaths increase fourfold from 2010 to 2015

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