Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has been calling on the House of Representatives to pass the “FEND Off Fentanyl Act.” The legislation would target cartels who are bringing in drugs to the United States and help fight the opioid epidemic. 

The chief program officer for ACR Health, Michelle McElroy, says the legislation is great for targeting people at the top of the supply chain but not for those at the local level.

“The reality is that generally on the community-based level, enforcement is not our primary goal," McElroy said.

The non-profit ACR Health provides an array of support services to individuals affected by a wide range of chronic diseases.

“So I do believe that if we’re going to take an enforcement tact, this bill is moving in the right direction, focusing on cartels and producers and not on individuals in community or people who use drugs themselves," McElroy said.

Gillibrand has been pushing for House Speaker Mike Johnson and House Republicans to pass the FEND Off Fentanyl Act. The bill would target foreign individuals and entities like cartels engaged in the trafficking of fentanyl and other illicit opioids.

“We have to have a much more aggressive tone towards the trafficking of these drugs into our country, and that’s why we need these type of sanctions to go after cartels," Gillibrand said.

McElroy says there is more success in doing outreach and providing services to individuals who are drug users.

“We focus on connecting people to care and treatment, working with drug court and diversion court trying to get people housed and offer case management and support services, offering access to our syringe exchange program, distributing Naloxone,“ McElroy said.

She says large-scale enforcement, addresses large scale problems but there are issues that need to be addressed in local communities.

“But what we really need is more for support for harm reduction services in communities," McElroy said. "What we really need is additional funding for housing. What we really need is additional funding for people who need a place to sleep and need something to eat. We are still in the midst of an opioid overdose crisis and we are tired of people dying."