KEYSER - Congressman David McKinley is pleased the budget bill, which was passed early Friday morning, includes $6 billion to fight the escalating opioid epidemic in the United States.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Congressman David McKinley is pleased the budget bill, which was passed early Friday morning, includes $6 billion to fight the escalating opioid epidemic in the United States.
Now his goal is to work with the appropriations committee to make sure a larger portion of that comes to West Virginia, where it is needed the most.
In an interview with the News Tribune Monday, and again in a meeting with key leaders from WVU Medicine Potomac Valley Hospital, McKinley said West Virginia - the leading state in the number of opioid overdose deaths - has historically been low on the list of states receiving federal dollars to fight the opioid problem.
Referring to two previous bills - the 21st Century Cures Act, which passed in 2015, and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which passed in 2016 - McKinley said a fraction of a percent of the money appropriated for fighting the drug epidemic came to West Virginia.
“We need to do a better job of allocating this money to rural areas,” he said. “Here in West Virginia, we’ve been running about 52 overdose deaths per 100,000 people. We’re the epicenter.
“And it’s not getting any better,” he added.
According to McKinley, the larger pots of money have been going to the areas with the most voices in Congress. Calling it an “institutional bias,” he says the practice has to stop.
McKinley told the staff and board members at Potomac Valley that part of the problem is the Representatives from the larger cities don’t understand the way of life in rural areas.
Recalling his fight to keep rural post offices from closing, he said a Congressman from a larger city asked him why his constituents couldn’t just “hop on the bus” and ride several blocks to the next post office.
“I said, ‘What bus?’” McKinley said. “They just don’t understand how it is in rural America.”
According to McKinley, now that the budget bill has passed, the lawmakers have a lot of work to do to convince the appropriations committee how the money should be divided.
Then, on March 23, they will vote on those appropriations.
He hopes a large portion of any money West Virginia receives will be put to use in establishing recovery programs.