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Patty Murray report: Opioid addiction and deaths cost Washington $9.2 billion in 2016

UPDATED: Wed., April 25, 2018, 10:33 p.m.

In this Feb. 21, 2017, file photo, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., speaks at a news conference in Seattle. Emboldened by election wins, Democrats are starting to see health care as an issue that gives them a political edge, particularly widening access to Medicaid for low-income people. “I think health care is a driving motivator for Democrats to elect people who will not take it away,” said Murray, ranking Democrat on the Senate health committee. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) ORG XMIT: WX104 (Elaine Thompson / AP)
In this Feb. 21, 2017, file photo, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., speaks at a news conference in Seattle. Emboldened by election wins, Democrats are starting to see health care as an issue that gives them a political edge, particularly widening access to Medicaid for low-income people. “I think health care is a driving motivator for Democrats to elect people who will not take it away,” said Murray, ranking Democrat on the Senate health committee. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) ORG XMIT: WX104 (Elaine Thompson / AP)

Opioid addiction and overdoses cost Washington $9.2 billion in 2016, according to a report by Sen. Patty Murray’s office released Monday.

The report, released before a Tuesday committee hearing on Murray’s bipartisan opioid addiction bill, takes a broad approach to quantifying the costs of addiction.

That includes putting a dollar value on the lost years of human life resulting from premature death due to overdoses and assuming that counts based on death certificates undercount the true number of opioid-related deaths. Using those methods, fatalities are the biggest contributor to Washington’s cost at $7.1 billion.

It’s the same method used in a 2017 analysis by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, which argued prior efforts to estimate the cost of opioid addiction had significantly underestimated the problem.

Other costs include health care spending at $922 million, addiction treatment ($99 million), criminal justice costs ($270 million) and lost productivity ($723 million).

Murray and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., introduced the Opioid Crisis Response Act earlier this month after a series of bipartisan hearings. The bill would renew funding for states and tribes with high mortality from opioid overdoses and create a grant program for comprehensive opioid recovery centers.

It also includes funding for research on non-narcotic painkillers, data collection on babies born dependent on opioids and expanded first-responder training on reversing opioid overdoses using naloxone.

The bill unanimously passed the Senate health committee on Tuesday.


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