nj.com: One way opioid crisis hit N.J. harder than other states



WASHINGTON -- New Jersey had one of the highest rates of emergency room visits due to opioid abuse, according to a federal report released Tuesday.

The state had 265.4 emergency room visits for opioids among men per 100,000 residents in 2014, sixth highest in the nation, according to the report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 

The rate for women in the state was 166.1 per 100,000, the report said.

Nationally, the number of emergency room visits doubled from 2005 to 2014, the report said.

A public health crisis

A public health crisis

Gov. Chris Christie signed an executive order Tuesday declaring the epidemic a public health crisis, which will create a new task force to address the issue.


Gov. Chris Christie has made tackling opioid abuse his top priority in his final year as New Jersey's chief executive, and was named by President Donald Trump to chair a national commission on the issue as well.

"Governor Christie recognized the problem early on, declaring the opioid crisis a public safety and health emergency and he put New Jersey on the leading edge of our nation's fight against this insidious plague," Christie spokesman Brian Murray said. "The governor has committed himself to finding solutions to the problem."

Massachusetts had the highest rate of opioid-related emergency room visits among men with 598.8 per 100,000 residents. Rhode Island was second with 383. Also ahead of New Jersey were Maryland, Connecticut and Ohio.

At last week's meeting of the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which Christie chairs, two Democratic members said the proposed cuts to Medicaid in the Trump-backed House Republican legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, would hinder the efforts to address the opioid problem.

Under the Republican bill, New Jersey taxpayers would have to pay $810 million more to cover the 560,000 residents now receiving health care under the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive research group in Washington.

Christie said last month that state officials were "certainly going to express our concerns" at the Republicans' proposed cuts to Medicaid.