In 2015, I lost a brother to an opioid-related death. I have also experienced numerous unsuccessful attempts over the years trying to help friends and family members gain access to addiction treatment.
These experiences transformed my clinical work in a profound way and motivated me to take action against barriers to treatment access and the opioid epidemic that in 2016 alone claimed 827 lives in Wisconsin and continues to claim approximately 115 lives in the U.S. daily.
As a health service provider, I have witnessed firsthand what happens at the intersection of overly burdensome government regulations and clinical practice. I am passionate about using my experience to inform sound public policy that gets unnecessary government regulations out of the way of sophisticated mental health services and promotes the potential of individuals and the communities in which they live.
For more than a year I worked directly with the Wisconsin State Legislature as a private citizen to draft legislation (AB907, Substance Abuse Certification) that repealed overly burdensome regulations that demonstrated no clinical utility and were significantly decreasing access to addiction treatment in Wisconsin.
The legislation I helped draft unanimously passed both the Wisconsin State Assembly and the Senate and was signed into law by Governor Walker on April 9, 2018 (picture: Bill Signing Ceremony, Act 262). It is estimated that when mental health organizations fully integrate the new laws, access to addiction treatment could increase by as much as 500%, without costing the taxpayers a single dime.
This experience renewed my hope in the power of representative government and motivated me to expand my professional work to the area of public policy. I am currently a member of Wisconsin's Community Substance Abuse Service Standards (DHS 75) Revisions Committee.