Mike Bloomberg 2020

Tackling the Opioid Epidemic

The opioid crisis is a national epidemic. Mike’s plan seeks to provide the robust and coordinated emergency and long-term medical interventions needed to help manage and address the crisis.

Mike’s Plan

Mike’s plan removes unnecessary obstacles to medications for addiction treatment, expands access to health services, and enforces laws that require insurance coverage of mental health care. The plan also expands access to treatment, develops national standards for states to gather data on opioid use and overdoses, and require insurers to remove obstacles to covering medications for opioid use disorder.

The key pillars of Mike Bloomberg’s plan include:

Aggressively Combat the Opioid Crisis

Providing medications to treat opioid use disorder and counseling when people enter hospitals or the criminal justice system. Equipping hospitals to provide medications for opioid use disorder and treating people who suffer from addiction problems instead of incarcerating them, unless they have committed violent crimes.

Enforce Federal Laws Mandating Insurance Coverage

Enforce federal laws mandating insurance coverage for mental health and substance use disorders.

Remove Unnecessary Obstacles

Requiring insurers to remove obstacles (for example, prior authorization) to cover medications for opioid use disorder and removing special training requirements and limits on prescribing buprenorphine.

Collect Better Data

Developing national standards for states to gather data on opioid use and overdoses to understand the scope of the crisis better and see which areas need help most.

Mike’s Record

Mike Bloomberg has a proven track record of addressing this issue and, as president, will take urgent action to deal with this crisis. As Mayor of New York, in 2011, Bloomberg formed the Prescription Painkiller Abuse Task Force. He also created NYC RxStat, which combined and used relevant public-health and public-safety data to combat the problem of painkiller abuse. More recently, Mike Bloomberg’s foundation is addressing the epidemic and saving lives by supporting high-impact, state-based interventions that can be replicated by other states and localities.


  • In 2011, Mayor Bloomberg formed the Prescription Painkiller Abuse Task Force, which underpinned a slate of policies launched by Mayor Bloomberg. The Task Force worked to raise awareness of painkiller abuse through public education campaigns and worked with the State to create an improved Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
  • In 2013, Mayor Bloomberg and City Health Officials introduced policy to restrict the prescription of powerful painkillers in the emergency rooms of New York City’s 11 public hospitals to combat prescription drug abuse after the Task Force released its interim report.
  • In 2013, Mayor Bloomberg created NYC RxStat, which, for the first time, combined relevant public health and public safety data to combat the problem of prescription painkiller abuse. RxStat data helped the City launch other prescription drug and opioid abuse initiatives.
  • In February 2018, Cary, North Carolina, and its opioid project was selected as one of 35 finalist cities for the 2018 Bloomberg Philanthropies U.S. Mayors Challenge.
  • In October 2018, Huntington, West Virginia, was selected for its opioid proposal as one of the 9 cities announced as winners for the 2018 Bloomberg Philanthropies U.S. Mayors Challenge.
  • In November 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced it would donate $50 million to 10 states over 3 years to combat opioid addiction and strengthen treatment programs.

The Opioid Epidemic

  • Each day, an average of 130 Americans die from opioid overdose. In 2017, more than two-thirds of drug-overdose deaths — 47,000+ — involved opioids. Few U.S. counties maintain overdose education and naloxone distribution programs, and only a fraction (10%) of people in the United States who need treatment for substance use disorder are able to obtain medical treatment.
  • In 2018, about 10 million Americans ages 12+ had misused opioids in the past year.
  • The U.S. opioid prescribing rate peaked in 2012 at 81.3 prescriptions per 100 people, then fell through 2017. Still, in 16% of counties enough opioids were prescribed in 2017 for each person to have one.
  • Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. Two-thirds of all overdose deaths occur in people under the age of 50. West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio have the highest overdose death rates. 2+ million people are addicted to opioids.
  • The US Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) estimated that the opioid crisis cost $696 billion in 2018—or 3.4 percent of GDP—and more than $2.5 trillion for the four-year period from 2015 to 2018