Michael Bloomberg's charity gives Michigan $10M to combat opioid deaths – MLive.com

The charity run by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is giving the state of Michigan $10 million to address the opioid crisis.

Billionaire philanthropist Bloomberg appeared Thursday with Governor Gretchen Whitmer at the City of Eastpointe Fire Department near Detroit. Firefighters there told them they save more people from drug overdoses than from burning buildings.

The $10 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies is a piece of its $50 million nationwide initiative, which will fund drug intervention efforts in 10 states in the next three years.

The charity selected Michigan and Pennsylvania to be the recipients of the first round of funding.

“The opioid crisis is a national emergency that calls for bold leadership and big ideas. Governor Whitmer is committed to reversing the epidemic, and our goal is to support her administration with resources and expertise that can help them save more lives,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “We hope our work in places like Michigan and Pennsylvania spares more families the heartbreak of losing a loved one to opioid addiction or overdose. And by showing that progress is possible, we can create a model for action that other states and organizations can follow.”

In Michigan, the money will be used to expand existing efforts like extending medication for opioid use disorder to prisons and jails, distributing more naloxone — the overdose revival drug also known as Narcan — and speeding up data collection.

Bloomberg said Michigan was chosen to receive the funding because of Whitmer’s leadership on the issue.

In Michigan, the number of drug overdose deaths rose by 14 percent from 2,335 deaths in 2016 to 2,694 deaths in 2017 — of which opioids were responsible more than 75 percent of the time. Michigan ranks as the state with the 14th highest death rate from drug overdoses in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pennsylvania has the third-highest death rate from drug overdose.

“The opioid epidemic is one of the greatest health crises of our lifetime, and we need to marshal all forces necessary to fight back,” Whitmer said in a statement. “The opioid crisis affects nearly every county in Michigan. These funds will help our state advance a comprehensive plan and implement critical interventions that can make the biggest impact to reduce overdose deaths.”

Bloomberg, who last ran for mayor as an independent, previously helped Michigan’s former Republican Governor Rick Snyder with his re-election campaign in 2014 by paying for TV ads and hosting a fundraiser. Bloomberg also took Snyder out-of-state on a tour in 2015, fueling speculation that Snyder was being eyed as a presidential candidate for 2016.

Bloomberg’s political allegiances in Michigan have been across the aisle. He endorsed Democrat Gary Peters during his campaign for U.S. Senate.

Bloomberg — who at 77 is one of the richest men in the world — announced this month that he won’t be joining a crowded field of Democratic candidates seeking the presidency in 2020.

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