Heroin forum spurs debate between rivals

Published Oct 20, 2017 at 4:00pm

The heroin and opioid forum held Tuesday evening by Representative Claudia L. Tenney, R-22, New Hartford, has spurred further debate between her and state Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi, D-119, Utica.

The debate is not over their common ground that the heroin and opioid crisis should be addressed, but rather their approach to health care and how it should be provided.

The contention between Brindisi, who is among those challenging Tenney for her seat in Congress in 2018, stems from her support of President Donald J. Trump and other Republicans to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act.

“I’m glad Ms. Tenney is addressing the important issue of heroin and opioid abuse tonight, but no forum can distract from the fact that she voted to rip funding away from tens of thousands of patients in opioid treatment programs,” Brindisi said. “Hopefully Ms. Tenney listens to the experts tonight and puts partisan politics aside and works to make opioid treatment programs accessible and affordable for everyone who needs them.”

Tenney’s Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director Hannah Andrews said Tenney has not let political ideology stand in the way of addressing the heroin and opioid crisis.

“In Congress, Rep. Tenney has been a leader in working to end the opioid epidemic. As a member of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, Rep. Tenney has worked across the aisle to provide greater resources to combat substance abuse and increase training and resources for our first responders,” she said.

Andrews added that Tenney has been active in sponsoring legislation that would keep heroin out of the country and that would also support Medicaid as a way of supporting addiction recovery efforts.

“Rep. Tenney is also a cosponsor of the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act and the Comprehensive Fentanyl Control Act, both of which aim to stop dangerous drugs from being sold and shipped across our borders,” Andrews said.

“She is also an original cosponsor of H.R. 2938, the Road to Recovery Act. This bipartisan legislation eliminates Medicaid’s exclusion for substance use disorders, which will help states expand access to inpatient treatment for individuals on Medicaid.”

Brindisi said he remains unconvinced of Tenney’s efforts. “There are ways to address the opioid and heroin crisis without trying to take healthcare away from 23 million Americans,”
he said.