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Elizabeth Warren Wins Applause in Heart of Trump Country

Elizabeth Warren at Unity Rally - Cambridge, MA, September 8, 2018.
Elizabeth Warren at Unity Rally - Cambridge, MA, September 8, 2018. (Photo: ElizabethForMA)

“But we got a second problem in this country and it’s greed. People didn’t get addicted all on their own, they got a lot of corporate help. They got a lot of help from corporations that made big money off getting people addicted and keeping them addicted.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren took her presidential campaign to Kermit, West Virginia on Friday, a town with a population of less than 400, in a county where four out of five voters backed Trump in 2016. Despite the town’s fire chief warning Warren’s team she would be entering “Trump country” beforehand, the 2020 hopeful got a positive reception, even winning nods and applause from MAGA hat-wearing attendees.

CARE Act Would Fund Communities Affected by Opioid Crisis

Kermit has been ravaged by the opioid crisis, and Warren’s visit was focused on proposing solutions to the epidemic. Warren’s proposal, which was detailed in a Medium post last week, would provide hard-hit West Virginia with $25.1 million per year in funding. The plan would distribute the amount of federal resources to states depending on the number of opioid overdose deaths each given state had suffered.

Called the “CARE Act,” the plan would provide $100 billion in federal funding over the next decade to communities worst hit by the opioid crisis. Warren’s plan is based on the 1990 Ryan White CARE Act, which launched a full-fledged response to the HIV/AIDS crisis after America’s medical system struggled to react to surging deaths related to the diseases in the 1980s.

Warren’s plan is co-sponsored by Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, a city that suffered 692 opioid-related deaths in 2017 alone. The plan treats the opioid epidemic as the “public health crisis that it is,” providing resources to the full spectrum of America’s addiction treatment infrastructure, from first responders to public health departments to nonprofit entities on the front lines of the crisis.

“There’s a tremendous amount to like here,” Bradley Stein, director of RAND’s Opioid Policy Center, told Yahoo Finance regarding Warren’s plan. “The magnitude of the investment really matches the needs of the crisis. A lot of the investment prior to this everyone has recognized as being insufficient or a drop in the bucket. For a crisis of this magnitude, it’s going to take that type of investment.”

Kermit Sues Local Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Companies for Failure to Report Suspicious Behavior

Sen. Warren’s Medium post describes Kermit as a clear example of the corporate greed driving the opioid crisis. The town was overwhelmed by approximately 13 million prescription opioid pills delivered to a single pharmacy – more than 30,000 pills per resident in the 400-person city. The companies that shipped the pills failed to report suspicious signs of behavior, and Kermit is responding with a lawsuit against the pharmacy and five companies involved.

Those five companies being sued by Kermit made $17 billion shipping prescription opioids to West Virginia during this period, while their CEOs made millions in bonuses. Warren also singles out the Sackler family, who made billions pushing OxyContin despite knowing of its addictive properties.  As Citizen Truth has previously written, the Sackler family tried to squeeze more money out of their own public health crisis by creating for-profit recovery centers.

“But we got a second problem in this country and it’s greed. People didn’t get addicted all on their own, they got a lot of corporate help. They got a lot of help from corporations that made big money off getting people addicted and keeping them addicted,” Warren told the crowd of 150 people in Kermit, many of whom were dressed in full Trump garb.

Wilburn “Tommy” Preece, Kermit’s fire chief who originally warned Warren’s team they were entering Trump country, was the first responder to an overdose two years ago that ended up being his little brother, Timmy. Preece lost his little brother to the opioid crisis, and welcomes anyone to Kermit who wants to fight the epidemic. Despite supporting Trump in 2016, Preece told Politico he respected Warren for showing up and offering her plan.

“She done good,” the fire chief said.

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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