September 7, 2016

Delegation Announces $1.9M for Opioid Addiction Treatment in RI

Funding boosts medication-assisted treatment, prevention, and overdose reporting

Providence, RI – Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Congressman Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today announced $1,926,300 in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help stem the opioid epidemic in Rhode Island.  The funding is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Opioid Initiative, which was launched in 2015 to improve opioid prescribing practices, expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, and increase the use of naloxone to reverse overdoses.

“This funding is critical, but it is really just a fraction of what is needed.  Congress must work together on a bipartisan basis to pass additional funds so states can increase access to overdose and addiction treatments,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee who has called for $600 million in emergency supplemental funding this year to help counter the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic.  However, Republicans blocked that effort.  “We need to improve addiction recovery outcomes and ensure that people who need help have access to life saving treatments.  No community is immune to this problem and we have to overcome barriers to treatment.”

“These federal funds provide needed reinforcement in Rhode Island’s fight to end an opioid epidemic that has claimed far too many lives,” said Whitehouse, an author of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which established a range of policies to prevent and treat addiction to opioid drugs.  “The bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act gives communities, law enforcement, and health professionals tools to end this public health crisis.  Congress must take swift action to back up those programs with resources to keep people from getting hooked and to help every American suffering from addiction get the treatment and recovery support they need.”

The award for Rhode Island includes $1 million for expanding access to medication-assisted treatment for people struggling with opioid abuse.  The state also received $926,300 to support its ongoing work to improve prescription drug monitoring programs, encourage safe prescribing practices, and improve overdose reporting and data sharing with professionals working to prevent opioid-involved overdoses locally and regionally.

“Opioid addiction has become an epidemic nationwide, and Rhode Island has been particularly hard hit by this public health crisis. This infusion of federal funds, paired with a commitment at the state level to address the root causes of addiction, will go a long way to supporting the health care and law enforcement professionals fighting this crisis on the front lines, and giving Rhode Islanders the help they need to treat addiction and related mental health conditions,” said Langevin.

“Like so many communities across the country, Rhode Island is facing an epidemic of opioid and prescription drug abuse.  This funding will provide critical, life-saving support for efforts to treat those most vulnerable to overdose,” said Cicilline, who is an original co-sponsor of the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 4447) to provide $600 million in additional funding to fight opiate addiction.  “I am pleased that Rhode Island is receiving this federal support to increase the use Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), a proven tool to help addicted individuals kick their drug habit, strengthen existing programs, and improve tracking of fatal and nonfatal overdoses to better design treatment options as we continue to confront this crisis.”

In 2015, 258 people lost their lives to overdose in Rhode Island—more than the number of those killed in homicides, suicides, and car accidents combined.  According to the Obama administration, 23.4 per 100,000 Rhode Islanders lost their lives to drug poisoning in 2014, well above the national average of 14.7 per 100,000 people.

“The overdose and addiction epidemic is the most urgent public health crisis of our time,” said Governor Gina Raimondo.  “We’ve lost more than 1,000 Rhode Islanders to this crisis over the last five years.  Working with the General Assembly, we included $3.5 million in the state budget to address the crisis.  I am deeply thankful that Rhode Island’s Congressional leaders have made funding for addiction treatment a priority.  This federal funding will build on the investments we’re already making to promote prevention, treatment and recovery and raise public awareness to reduce the stigma of addiction.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Opioid Initiative awarded $53 million to combat the nationwide opioid epidemic in this round of funding.  Under the President’s FY 2017 budget proposal, states would be eligible for up to $920 million over two years to expand access to treatment.  If fully funded, the President’s budget would bring up to $4 million over two years to Rhode Island for opioid treatment.  Congress has not yet enacted appropriations for FY 2017.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921