Former Governor and current candidate for U.S. Senate Phil Bredesen made a stop in Johnson City on Wednesday to talk about the opioid crisis.
He held a round table meeting with law enforcement, hospital officials, doctors, non-profits and family members who have been on the front lines and are dealing with this crisis everyday.
“They’re not political, I have no idea what party people in these things belong to or what their political views are. I just want to hear directly what their experiences have been and find out the best way to ultimately put together some strategy,”, Bredesen said, “I can’t emphasize enough how much I just really value this talking to people who actually have the experience. That have actually dealt with this problem themselves, they’ve had an experience in their family, they’re in law enforcement, they’ve treated people doing it. I think that is always the safest and most un-diluted source of information.”
Bredesen says that as he tours around the state, it doesn’t matter what subject that he is supposed to be speaking on, the topic always winds its way back around to opioids. He also thinks that trying to focus on solving as the whole issue, it will not work.
“I think if you try to solve all of its facets, you’ll never get anywhere with it. What I’m looking for is what are 2 or 3 things that we can do that would be the most effective or help the largest number of people that might be possible to do on the federal level,” Bredesen said, “I think the congress has got a play here, I think the first thing that happens is congress has got to admit that it has an opioid problem. It’s kind of like recovery and say look, we’ve done things like de-fang the DEA and some of those things that are really contributing to the problem, not helping it. Let’s turn that around and get things back to where it is focused on the individuals in every state and certainly Tennessee.”
Bredesen talked with health officials and non-profits about things like insurance coverage for addicts and what hospital can do when they come into the ER for help. The candidate also spent time talking with law enforcement about their experience in dealing with the problem.
Bredesen added, “I think that we clearly need to give some more tools to law enforcement. These pain clinics, pill mills, they are not the only problem, by far. But boy they sure are a big problem and the one that you can go after in some ways of doing it.”