WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) to introduce the Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act, which would invest $45 billion for prevention, detection, surveillance and treatment of opioids and opioid addiction. This legislation would address a number of the critical shortcomings in the approach to combating the opioid epidemic, including the Trump Administration’s unwillingness to make a long-term investment in the fight.
“We need to see real action to back up the promises we’ve heard when it comes to the opioid epidemic. We have seen staggering numbers released recently showing how devastating the crisis is in Virginia, and we must take action to help Virginia communities treat and rehabilitate people suffering with addiction,” Kaine said. “The funding from the Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act would go where it’s needed most: to the state and local governments that are on the frontlines fighting this crisis.”
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 21st Century 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.
The Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act 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, and Young People in Recovery.
The bill is also co-sponsored by Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (DNH), Al Franken (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).