WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), co-author of the Mental Health Reform Act, applauded U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee passage of billions of dollars for mental health and substance use treatment. As a member of the Appropriations committee, Murphy helped secure the funding as part of the FY2017 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. 

Whether it’s a relative, neighbor or friend, every one of us knows someone who has been touched by addiction or mental illness. In Connecticut, we’ve seen more than 700-drug related deaths just last year but treatment centers continue to have waiting lists and individuals looking for help have nowhere to turn to,” said Murphy. “There’s much more to be done, but today the Senate took a powerful step today by committing real federal dollars to expand treatment and prevention programs – a step that will save lives and help restore hope for the millions of families across this country battling substance abuse and mental illness.”

Murphy also lauded $34 billion – an increase of $2 billion above FY2016 – for the National Institutes of Health for medical research investments at institutions like the University of Connecticut and Yale University that are conducting innovative research, such as working towards the “Moonshot Mission” to end cancer.

Murphy and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced the comprehensive, bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 in August 2015 to address America’s mental health crisis and ensure that individuals suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders receive the care they need. The Senators joined forces with HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in introducing the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 in March of this year. The bill passed unanimously out of the HELP Committee on March 16, 2016.

Murphy also cosponsored the TREAT Act to expand access to medication-assisted treatment, and has urged the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that those seeking treatment for addiction have greater access to medication-assisted treatment. Earlier this year, Murphy spent a “Day in the Life” meeting with patients, health professionals, law enforcement, and advocates around Connecticut to learn firsthand how he can improve federal efforts to combat Connecticut’s addiction crisis and save lives.

Highlights of the FY2017 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill relating to mental health and prescription drug abuse treatment programs include: 

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    • $541.5 million for the Mental Health Block Grant, an increase of $30 million above the current year.
    • $1.9 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, which goes to states to fund programs related to prevention, treatment, recovery support and other services associated with the heroin and opioid crisis.
    • $60 million for grants for states to expand access to drug treatment services for those with a dependence on prescription opioids or heroin - $35 million more than the current year.
    • $26 million to prevent opioid overdoses - $14 million more than FY 2016. These funds will be used to help states purchase emergency devices that rapidly reverse the adverse effects of opioid overdoses, train first responders on how to use the emergency devices and increase public awareness of the dangers of opioid use. 
  • Community Health Centers 
    • $1.5 billion for Community Health Centers, including at least $100 million for expanded mental health services and services to prevent and treat opioid abuse in hundreds of underserved areas around the nation.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    • $98 million - $28 million more than the President’s request – will be used to prevent prescription drug overdoses, allowing for broad dissemination of CDC’s opioid prescribing guidelines and improvement of State Prescription Drug Monitoring programs. 
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
    • $34.1 billion for NIH, an increase of $2 billion from FY 2016. The increase includes an additional $100 million for the new Precision Medicine Initiative million-person cohort program, as well as an additional $400 million for Alzheimer’s disease research. It also includes increases of $100 million for the BRAIN Initiative and $50 million for research to combat antimicrobial resistance.