Senators call on President Trump and GOP to support bill, join in securing resources for struggling communities

WASHINGTON – To address a number of critical shortcomings in the U.S. approach to combating the opioid epidemic, including the Trump administration’s unwillingness to make a long-term investment in the fight, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joined U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and a group of 15 other senators in introducing the Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act. The legislation would invest $45 billion – the same amount proposed by Senate Republicans earlier this year – for prevention, detection, surveillance and treatment of opioid addiction.

Blumenthal said, “This measure means real action, not more empty Trump rhetoric in the fight against substance use disorder – a $45 billion down payment for treatment and prevention. The Trump announcement has no new money and no new leadership at key agencies like DEA and HHS. It relies on the discredited mantra of ‘just say no,’ instead of proven methods of counseling and evidence-based treatments. A 90-day order is no substitute for a declaration of public health emergency. Our measure should win bipartisan support, just as similar legislative steps in the past have brought us together against this public health crisis and growing epidemic that spares no community.”

“The opioid epidemic is getting worse, and Congress hasn’t done enough to try and stop it. We’ve seen only lip service so far from the Trump administration—calling it a public health emergency but then championing billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid that would gut life-saving substance abuse programs that Connecticut families rely on,” said Murphy. “The Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act will inject seriously-needed dollars into stopping this crisis from impacting more Connecticut families.”

U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bill Nelson (D-Fl.), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Al Franken (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) joined Blumenthal, Murphy, Casey, and Markey in introducing the legislation.

This 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 21st Century Cures Act.

-      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