TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Rick Scott quietly renewed his executive order declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency.
Scott on Monday extended the order for 60 days after gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Jack Latvala called for the extension. But it’s still unclear if Scott will use the extension to tap into state emergency funds.
Florida received $27 million from the federal government to fight the opioid crisis this year. Mental health services lost $20 million. The federal funds can go toward counseling or other wraparound services for those addicted to opioids, but important services like central receiving facilities came up short. Many had to lay off employees and reduce their capacity.
“The central receiving systems are integral to the local communities. They help to serve to the no wrong door approaches that anyone who is in crisis or who needs mental healthcare or substance use services can approach that facility," said Melanie Brown-Woofter, with Florida Council for Community Mental Health.
Latvala also asked the governor for $20 million in state emergency funds to for detox, residential treatment and outpatient care.
“The $20 million certainly could take some of the stress off as people try locally to put together and implement their plans for addressing the crisis in their respective communities," said Mark Fontaine, with the Florida Behavioral Health Association.
When asked whether Scott was considering accessing state emergency funds, his press team instead said the governor plans include additional funds for the crisis in his 2018 Legislative package.”
Latvala predicts 2,700 Floridians will die from opioids by the time a new budget passes in March.
Although mental health advocates commend the governor for his continued support to fighting the battle, they said there’s no doubt the emergency funds would help reduce deaths between now and the end of session.
The governor will be releasing his Legislative proposal in the coming weeks. His office said the increases to funds for battling the opioid epidemic will be significant.