ORLANDO, Florida — Battling the deadly opioid epidemic is expensive, and often that funding is provided through federal and state grants.
- Dept. of Justice awards $320M across U.S. to fight opioid crisis
- Currently unknown where in Central Fla. funding could go
- Foundation VP: We need donors to come to table
- READ MORE: Breakdown of federal opioid funding
Spectrum News tracked down Central Florida leaders who are on the frontlines battling this epidemic and asked them why the region isn’t getting more funding, and how our community can change that fact.
Inside the Guidewell Innovation Center, health care executives, judicial leaders, politicians, and community advocates are working to end the growing opioid epidemic.
“We have a tremendous need here … the crisis is so large that it is going to take a large influence, and influx of money to really get ahold of this thing,” said Chief Judge Fred Lauten of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.
In October, the Department of Justice awarded almost $320 million dollars to fight the opioid epidemic nationwide, and $38.4 million — or 10 percent of that funding — was awarded to the entire state of Florida.
We broke it down even more: $3.9 million is going to certain cities and counties across Florida, including $400,000 to Brevard County, leaving $34.4 million to be divided up by state and private agencies statewide.
But what is unknown is where else in Central Florida that funding could go.
“They are making it a little easier to get, in fairness to the federal government. It is just that we are kind of behind the curve. This thing got ahead of us,” Lauten said.
Lauten feels the state as a whole needs to do more, which also means others need to step up.
“Government and insurance can’t fund everything. I wish we could. So we really need private philanthropy, and we need funders and donors to come to the table,” said Susan Towler, Florida Blue Foundation Vice President.
Florida Blue is a philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross Blue Shield, and just this year they gave $3 million to Central Florida programs that fight the epidemic.
Those donations help tremendously, but people here agree another resource should also be tapped into.
“I think it gives us an opportunity to go to our law makers at the state level and the federal level and say, ‘Look, we need federal money, we need state money. This is a crisis. This is an epidemic, please respond to this,” said child advocate Dick Batchelor.