Ahead Of President’s Speech, Heinrich Introduces Legislation To Invest $45B To Address Opioid Crisis

Senators Call on President Trump and GOP in Congress to Support Bill, Join in Securing Resources for Struggling Communities. Unlike GOP Health Care Scheme, Senators’ Bill Does Not Decimate Medicaid or Serve As Replacement for Coverage.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - To address a number of critical shortcomings in our nation’s approach to combating the opioid epidemic, including the Administration’s unwillingness to make a long-term investment in the fight, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Al Franken (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act. The legislation would invest $45 billion for prevention, detection, surveillance and treatment of opioids. 

“The opioid addiction epidemic has been deeply felt by New Mexicans. Too many families have lost loved ones and many more are struggling to find treatment and recovery resources for a father, mother, son, daughter, or for themselves,”said Sen. Heinrich. “We know that evidence-based treatment works, but it is only possible when we invest in prevention, detection and rehabilitation programs. When provided with an opportunity to receive comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation, people who have suffered through the trials of opioid addiction can turn their lives around and help their communities heal in the process. I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation to ensure states and local communities have the funding and resources they need to combat this epidemic.”

In August, the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis — which was created by President Trump via an executive order in March — released a preliminary report urging the president to declare the opioid crisis a “national emergency,” arguing that this would “empower your cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding” a serious response to the epidemic. Despite these recommendations, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have repeatedly tried to upend the nation’s health care system and slash Medicaid funding, which pays for 30 percent of opioid medication-assisted treatment in New Mexico.

The Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act would:

  • Authorize and appropriate $4,474,800,000 for substance abuse programs for the individual states for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2027.
  • Build upon bipartisanship by adding this funding to the Account for the State Response to the Opioid Abuse Crisis, which was created by the 21stCentury Cures Act. The 21st Century Cures Act passed the Senate with 94 votes.
  • Expand the use of funding already allowed under 21st Century Cures, so that states may also use this money for detection, surveillance and treatment of co-occurring infections, as well as for surveillance, data collection and reporting on the number of opioid overdose deaths. 
  • Promote research on addiction and pain related to substance abuse, and authorizes and appropriates $50,400,000 for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2022. Under the bill, the National Institutes of Health would be responsible for distributing this money. 
  • Provide stable, long-term funding, a total of $45 billion over ten years to the states and over five years to research efforts. This is similar to the stable, long-term investment that Senate Republicans proposed as a response to the opioid emergency. 
  • Not replace coverage for treatment under Medicaid or the treatment requirements for private insurance in the Affordable Care Act. Both of these remain critical for combating the opioid abuse epidemic.

This Legislation Has Been Endorsed By:

American Psychiatric Association
American Society of Addiction Medicine
Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose 
International Nurses Society on Addictions (IntNSA)
National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists
National Association of County and City Health Officials
National Association of Social Workers 
National Council for Behavioral Health
National Health Care for the Homeless Council
National Safety Council 
Treatment Communities of America
Young People in Recovery 

A copy of the bill is available here.