Gov. Charlie Baker used a national television appearance Tuesday to promote the state's efforts to combat opioid addiction and to appeal for bipartisan cooperation in polarized Washington.
Seated with the president's daughter at a White House dinner on Sunday, the Massachusetts governor talked to Ivanka Trump about the nation's opioid addiction problem, he said during an an appearance on CBS This Morning.
On his way back to Massachusetts from the National Governors Association's winter meetings, Baker visited the set of the national news program where he touted the state's new top ranking by U.S. News & World Report and discussed the Bay State's effort to manage the opioid crisis.
Co-host Gayle King noted Baker was seated with Ivanka Trump at dinner and asked, "What did you learn talking to her at that dinner?"
"Well we spent most of the time, actually, talking about opioids, and the opioid epidemic, which is not just an issue in Massachusetts, but an issue around the country," Baker replied.
A total of 1,465 people died of confirmed unintentional opioid overdoses in 2016, according to the Department of Public Health. The total confirmed and estimated opioid-related deaths in 2016 rose to 1,979, an uptick from recent years. The death toll from heroin, fentanyl and other opiates galvanized state policymakers and first-responders to pass a law aimed at facilitating access to treatment and slowing the trend of addiction.
Baker discussed efforts the state has made to mandate training in pain management and opioids in the medical field - where prescription opiates can lead patients down the road to addiction.
"Till very recently you could practice medicine; you could be a dentist; you could be a nurse; you could be a physician's assistant, and never take a course in pain management or opioid therapy," Baker said. "In Massachusetts anyway, you gotta actually take a course and pass it now to graduate from any of those schools."
After spending the a few days in the nation's capital with governors and members of Congress and the Trump administration, the Republican governor of a mostly Democrat-voting state appealed for bipartisanship in Washington.
"I would argue that a lot of the states are pretty good at this bipartisan stuff, not just Massachusetts. I would love to see Washington move in that direction, as well," Baker said. When co-host Anthony Mason noted Massachusetts is "generally considered a Democratic state," Baker said, "Oh, it's definitely a Democratic state. There's no doubt about that."
The governor was on CBS with U.S. News and World Report Editor and Chief Content Officer Brian Kelly to talk about the ranking of Massachusetts as the best state in the country.
"We have a lot of really smart people. We have a lot of great schools. That has led to a whole series of terrific, what I would call ecosystems around technology and health care and finance and education," Baker said.
The governor said "people are OK with the ideas of compromise and collaboration" in Massachusetts and credited Democrats and Republicans working together to make strides on the economy, education, health care and energy.
The rankings gave extra weight to education and health care, areas where Massachusetts excelled. On affordability metrics, Massachusetts ranked near the bottom (47) among the least affordable states to live.