February 16, 2018
As a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing zeroed in on the opioid crisis' continuing toll on workplaces and the economy, a new report finds that the economic cost of the crisis totaled $1 trillion from 2001 to 2017. If current trends continue, the report by Altarum maintains, $500 billion more in costs can be expected by 2020. The report further notes, "The greatest cost comes from lost earnings and productivity from overdose deaths—estimated at $800,000 per person based on an average age of 41 among overdose victims. This figure is largely made up of lost wages of workers and productivity losses of employers, but it also weighs on government in the form of lost tax revenue." Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) noted during the House hearing, in which Altarum testified, that while "it is troubling to hear that workplaces around the country have been affected by opioid misuse and addiction.... businesses large and small are taking steps to address this problem in their organizations." The hearing examined ways the private and public sector might better coordinate to find a solution. Meanwhile, a Senate HELP Committee hearing explored approaches to combat the crisis through education, support for family members raising children through foster care, and other avenues.