Amy Klobuchar “The one thing Ihear over and over again across the country is people's stories ofbattling with mental health and addiction—people need help, butthey just can't get it,” says Sen. Amy Klobuchar. (Photo: BridgetBennett/Bloomberg)

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Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, hasunveiled a plan to combat mental illness and substance abuse to the tune of some $100billion over a decade.

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The Associated Press reports that the ambitious planincludes funding for numerous features, including earlyintervention in cases of mental health disorders and drug use aswell as a national suicide prevention campaign, better access totreatment for opioid addiction and other care, in addition torecruitment of health care workers to underserved rural areas andcities with the highest need.

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Klobuchar also intends, should she become president, to approachthe whole issue differently, prioritizing prioritize mental healthand substance abuse treatment over incarceration for nonviolentoffenders. In her announcement she pointed out that when she waslead prosecutor in Minnesota's largest county, she supported drugcourts as an alternative to jail.

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Related: Medicare for All: Where the 2020 presidentialcandidates stand

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The effect on her life of her father's alcoholism has coloredher approach to the whole substance abuse issue, with “realtreatment” making the difference for her father after his third DUIarrest. He has been sober since.

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“The one thing I hear over and over again across the country ispeople's stories of battling with mental health andaddiction—people need help, but they just can't get it,” Klobucharsaid. “I believe everyone should have the same opportunity my dadhad to be pursued by grace and get the treatment and help theyneed.”

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Targeted suicide prevention campaigns for veterans, LGBTQpeople, farmers and tribal communities are part of the proposal, asis better enforcement of laws requiring insurers to provide similarcoverage of mental health issues and substance abuse problems tothe way physical illnesses are covered. Also included would beaccess to medication-assisted treatment in federal and stateprisons.

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Where would the $100 billion come from? Chiefly opioidmanufacturers, since Klobuchar says they should be held accountablefor having created the crisis in the first place. The plan wouldprovide considerably more funding than other efforts—the opioidbill Trump signed in 2018 provides a far smaller sum of $6 billionover two years.

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However, the proposal also relies on a settlement that hasn'tyet been reached—she proposes “a master settlement agreementbetween the drugmakers and state and local governments that havesued them,” according to AP, an effort that recalls the 1998tobacco settlement—as well as new legislation that hasn't yet beenpassed.

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The proposal would impose a new fee of 2 cents per milligram ofthe active ingredient in a prescription pain pill, which Klobucharintends to be paid by the manufacturer or the importer and providea permanent revenue stream for the effort. An earlier and similarfunding proposal in New York was met with stiff resistance from thepharmaceutical industry, which said it would make treatment moreexpensive for consumers.

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.