Health secretary touts Springs program
President Donald Trump’s top health official on Tuesday hailed a Colorado-based nonprofit as an example of how to turn the tide on the nation’s raging opioid epidemic.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price toured Phoenix Multisport’s Colorado Springs gym Tuesday evening, praising its ability to help participants feel like “family” while providing a safe space to remain sober.
“It kind of punctuates what we’ve seen in other communities, and that is that local solutions work best,” Price said.
Price’s visit came on the heels of a White House commission’s report urging Trump to “declare a national emergency” on the epidemic as a means to force Congress into approving more money to combat the problem.
In Colorado, fatal narcotic painkiller overdoses have nearly tripled since 2001, claiming 300 lives in 2016, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Price offered no clues on the administration’s plans for handling former President Barack Obama’s health law.
But he defended his push to end Medicaid’s expansion, which under the Affordable Care Act afforded substance abuse treatment benefits to millions of Americans.
Addiction specialists have urged him not to end that coverage.
“What we’re trying to do is make certain that every single American has access to a health coverage policy that works for them,” Price said.
The effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act never came up as Price chatted Tuesday with the organization’s leaders.
Rather, a dozen Phoenix regulars heaved medicine balls and did countless burpees as Price toured the spacious gym off Colorado Avenue, east of Interstate 25.
Activities are held every day, including workouts, mountain bike rides, rock climbing trips and yoga classes.
The goal: provide a healthy outlet to battle their addictions, while building a network of fellow athletes to help when the cravings hit.
James Eads, 40, who has participated in the group for four years while recovering from alcohol and methamphetamine addiction, gushed about it to Price.
“It gave me passion,” Eads said. “It gave me people to surround myself with.”