Congress needs to act swiftly to approve $600 million in emergency funding to address an opioid and heroin abuse crisis that is spiraling out of control in Maine and New Hampshire, Sens. Angus King and Jeanne Shaheen said Friday.

King, an independent, and Shaheen, a Democrat, described the drug crisis in northern New England as a scourge that is destroying families. The number of drug overdose deaths in Maine in 2015 will likely be determined to have been higher than the record of 208 in 2014, King said.

The two discussed the proposal Friday during a news conference at York Hospital that was attended by doctors, school officials and families affected by heroin and prescription drug abuse. King and Shaheen want supplemental legislation that would provide emergency money through the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“This is the most serious threat I have seen in my time in office,” said King, who was elected in 2012 and also spent eight years as Maine’s governor. “It’s going to take a complete, comprehensive commitment from all levels of government.”

The emergency funding plan includes $200 million from the justice department for state and local initiatives on drug treatment, prevention, education and enforcement programs. It also includes a $250 million Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.

King and Shaheen fielded questions about how difficult it will be to shepherd the plan through Congress. Shaheen said the effort will start with building a coalition. She has said she will formally introduce it next week.

York Hospital operates an intensive outpatient treatment program, known as the Cottage Program, for adults and adolescents with drug addictions. Hospital president Jud Knox said a coordinated effort from federal authorities is needed so health care professionals can tackle the opioid abuse problem.

“We have an opioid crisis. Locally, regionally, nationally,” he said. “We will need resources.”

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