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Warner & Kaine Praise Senate Passage Of Comprehensive Opioid & Substance Abuse Bill That Included Their Own Legislation

After months of work in the Finance and HELP committees, Senate makes historic progress to address substance abuse treatment and prevention 

Bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration, Senators call for quick action from Virginia’s House members 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine celebrated Senate passage of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, a comprehensive substance abuse treatment bill to address the national addiction crisis. The bipartisan bill passed 99-1 after months of work in several Senate committees. The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 includes four proposals from Warner that initially passed out of the Senate Finance Committee as part of the Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018. This comprehensive package also includes three Kaine proposals that passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee as part of an earlier version of The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018.

“The opioid epidemic has devastated communities across Virginia. In order to save lives, we need a comprehensive strategy that tackles the opioid epidemic at all fronts, and this bipartisan legislation offers a much-needed roadmap to combat this national crisis. This bill addresses many of the challenges our health professionals and law enforcement face when confronting the opioid addiction epidemic. It also recognizes that addiction and recovery doesn’t look the same for everyone everywhere. From establishing telehealth services to better equip underserved communities with substance abuse treatment to providing specialized care for infants suffering from opioid withdrawal, this bill makes significant steps to fight the opioid epidemic,” said Warner.

“The opioid epidemic has taken lives and hurt families in Virginia and across the country. We’re past due for comprehensive legislation that can address the public health and law enforcement challenges that our communities are facing. This bipartisan, comprehensive package puts forth concrete changes that can help us begin to break the harmful cycle of addiction and address the drug overdoses that are plaguing our communities. We must tackle this crisis from all angles, including prevention, treatment, and recovery,” Kaine said.

Warner and Kaine have worked to drive forward legislation to combat the substance abuse epidemic, which in 2017 accounted for more than 72,000 deaths nationwide.

Warner, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, voted to advance the Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018 out of the Senate Finance Committee in June. The bill passed out of committee on a bipartisan 27-0 vote and included provisions from four Warner bills to:

  • Expand telehealth services for substance abuse treatment.
  • Make clear how Medicaid funds can be used for substance use disorder treatment through telehealth.
  • Help ensure children suffering from substance use disorders receive the assistance they need through telehealth services.
  • Improve data collection on substance use disorders among Medicaid recipients.

Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, voted to pass the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 out of the Senate HELP Committee in April. The bill was the result of seven bipartisan hearings and included proposals from three Kaine bills to:

In March, Sens. Warner and Kaine voted for the omnibus bill that increased funding to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support programs related to the opioid crisis, including an additional $2.8 billion for treatment, prevention and research.