Governor Scott Walker's Task Force on Opioid Abuse met at UW-La Crosse December 16, as part of a continued bi-partisan effort to end the opioid overdose epidemic in Wisconsin.
This month's meeting focused on prevention, something the Task Force's Co-chair Wisconsin State Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch calls necessary to tackle an issue that affects the entire state.
"Heroin and opioids are affecting not just urban, not just suburban, not just rural communities," Lt. Gov. Kleefisch said. "They're not just affecting a specific age bracket. They are affecting all families. If you look at the data just from last year, we are talking about over 20,000 hospitalizations, 614 deaths. This is significant. It is a problem that we must tackle."
Kleefisch said the meeting also added a local perspective that will aid in recommendations heading in to next legislative session.
"Now we are seeing the numbers just for La Crosse County, and year over year they have risen significantly, and this is a problem country-wide, this isn't limited to Wisconsin. It's also not limited geographically or demographically at all," Kleefisch added.
Others in attendance at the meeting today included the Task Force's Co-chair Rep. John Nygren, Wisconsin State Assemblywoman Jill Billings and law enforcement and health organization representatives.