Former President Bill Clinton told officials attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting on Saturday that there was a desperate need for more rehabilitation facilities for opioid addicts and resources to treat patients with mental health issues.
More than 250 mayors from cities with populations of 30,000 or more were attending the four-day conference at the Fountainebleau Miami Beach. Clinton was the speaker of the City Livability Luncheon.
The addiction crisis is "going to eat us all alive," Clinton said during his speech. He added that "we have to deal with this in a comprehensive way and we are not close."
Clinton warned the mayors about the need to address the epidemic, as Republicans face criticism over their plan to make large-scale changes to Medicaid, the government health insurance for the poor.
Clinton said he was proud of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval for being among the Republicans who are objecting to the cuts to Medicaid.
"He knew that he depended upon young workers, many of whom were here as their first of their generation," Clinton said.
Clinton also asked the mayors to take a stand on immigration and global warming despite President Donald Trump's positions on both issues. He said mayors are able to recognize the value of diversity at the local level.
"Diverse groups make better decisions than lone geniuses," Clinton said. "Creative societies are about multiplication, not division."
Clinton said mayors needed to consider their resources if they were going to take a position on Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate-change agreement.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who replaced Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett as conference president this weekend, also talked about global warming on Friday.
"There’s near unanimity in this conference that climate change is real and that humans contribute to it," Cornett said. "There may be a little bit of a disagreement about how actually to deal with it.
"If the federal government refuses to act or is just paralyzed, the cities themselves, through their mayors, are going to create a new national policy by the accumulation of our individual efforts."
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a Democrat who is considering a run for governor, took a group for a tour on Friday to show them how the city is using pumps to combat rising tides. The pumps send up to 120,000 gallons of water per minute into Biscayne Bay.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined Levine in saying that U.S. cities are taking measures that the federal government should be taking.
"But if we don't do it, who is going to do it? Right? ... It's just that we can't depend on our national government anymore," De Blasio said.