WASHINGTON, D.C. — Huntington Mayor Steve Williams is issuing a warning about addiction.

“If we don’t learn how to deal with addiction, once opioids pass us, we’re still sitting here facing the very same issues again,” he said.

Axios photo

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams and Mike Allen, co-founder and executive editor of Axios

“The epidemic of addiction is truly the greatest existential threat facing our nation. It’s eating us away at our core.”

On Wednesday, he was part of a conversation Axios hosted in Washington, D.C. about the biggest challenges in health care and how to be to tackle them, including the opioid crisis which has tested Mayor Williams during his time leading his Cabell County city.

Addiction, he said, must be addressed as the health issue it is.

“We have no problems creating institutes to fight cancer. We don’t think twice about having an institute to fight Alzheimer’s. We need to have aggressive academic research and institutes in fighting addiction,” Mayor Williams said.

Along with Williams, the other speakers were Dr. Vanila Singh, chief medical officer for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)

The topic was “Easing America’s Pain.”

Manchin talked about the importance of the Affordable Care Act during his time on stage.

“In the rural parts of America, rural parts of West Virginia, anywhere where folks are just good ‘ol folks, they’ll tell you, if they really have a serious illness, somebody in the family, they’ll just say, ‘I don’t want to put my family in a difficult position,'” Manchin said.

In those cases, Manchin said that most likely means the people don’t have insurance, can’t afford the necessary care and don’t want to put the financial burden on their families.

“We’re a better country than that,” Manchin said.

The moderator for the event was Mike Allen, the co-founder and executive editor of Axios, a news and information website, and co-founder of Politico.

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