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MetroWest Daily News: Washington’s response to the opioid crisis

The opioid addiction epidemic is a crisis not just here in Massachusetts but across the country, and the federal government has a big role to play in addressing it. Fortunately, the crisis is producing something unusual in Congress: bipartisanship.

One positive sign is the letter sent this week by two senators who don’t often see eye-to-eye. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., wrote to the U.S. Surgeon General’s office requesting an official report on prescription opioid and heroin abuse. The leaders hope a report and call to action could have the same kind of impact as the landmark Surgeon General’s report on smoking had 50 years ago.

Markey and McConnell note in their letter that about 120 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses, and that Massachusetts and Kentucky have been especially hard hit. Enlisting the surgeon general in this cause makes sense. America is ready to treat addiction as a matter of public health, not law enforcement. The nation’s chief public health officer can help rally support for the kind of policies that will make a difference.