letters to the editor

Reader states he is ‘appalled’ with Zachary’s opioid crisis response

I am frankly appalled by (GOP state Rep.) Jason Zachary’s response to the opioid crisis, not that prayer isn’t warranted in every condition, but that it’s the only response he offers.

Throwing one’s hands up in despair and saying the “issue” of deaths due to drugs has moved beyond the government’s ability to intervene is the last response we need from an elected official. Government does indeed have a major role to play in providing treatment for addiction. Expansion of Medicaid would have provided billions of dollars for treatment of this and other chronic health issues here in Tennessee.

After a recent symposium on healthcare, an incumbent state senator told me that he thought Tennessee had lost out on almost 8 billion dollars in our tax revenues sent to other states with expanded Medicaid. All of those dollars could have been returned to Tennessee instead. Eleven rural hospitals would have been kept open, jobs would have remained in communities and local economies would have thrived instead of failed.

Healthy people fuel a healthy economy. Jason Zachary failed in his responsibility to serve District 14 and the State when he voted against the expansion of Medicaid. There was absolutely no cost involved in the expansion.

Our taxes would have been returned to our state to fund the programs that are so critically needed to treat not only opiate addiction, but chronic health conditions accompanying poverty — obesity and diabetes to name two. In reality there are few families who have escaped the scourge of the drug addiction crisis.

The abuse of opiate medication has been facilitated by the FDA’s approval of these drugs and the Pharmaceutical industry’s misrepresentation of their addictive properties for decades. Government does indeed owe us a response.

We must elect representatives to our state government who will vote to fund programs that will make the quality of life of all Tennesseans better. Please support Justin Davis for our Representative in State House District 14, a man who will not run from the drug epidemic, but will demand accountability from the government, rely on the expertise of those in the field of addiction treatment and demand that our tax dollars be returned to our state for the good of the people who need them most. That is my prayer.

P.S.: After I wrote the letter, but before sending it, I retrieved my farragutpress from the newspaper tube. I was pleasantly surprised to see your article on the Recovery Ministry at Concord United Methodist Church. My letter is not to imply that we don’t also need community based programs, and I applaud Concord United Methodist for running headlong into the fray.

I felt strongly that Gov. (Bill) Haslam’s Insure Tennessee program was the answer to many of the healthcare issues critical to our marginalized citizens. To see Jason Zachary, who worked to defeat it, post that he was contacting pastors for prayer and the issue was beyond the government’s ability to fix, struck me as completely hypocritical. The government is culpable, as I said, but I am also thankful for community programs that aren’t waiting for the government to step up.

Marcia L. Power