March 21, 2019

Delegation Announces $6.5 Million to Fight Opioid Addiction in Rhode Island

Reed, Whitehouse, Langevin, Cicilline voted to boost dramatically the state’s share of opioid grant funding

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced $6.5 million in funding to fight opioid addiction in Rhode Island.  The state’s share from a grant program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) was increased substantially due to changes to the funding formula included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018.  All four members of the delegation voted for the legislation, as well as the more recent Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act of 2019, which included $1.5 billion for State Opioid Response Grants for fiscal year 2019.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rhode Island had the tenth highest drug overdose death rate of any state in the nation in 2017.

In the Senate, Reed and Whitehouse, led the successful effort to change SAMHSA’s grant formula by setting aside funding specifically for states hardest hit by the opioid crisis.  Their bipartisan bill, the Targeted Opioid Funding Act, prioritizes federal funding for states that have been hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, including Rhode Island.  The bill also called for SAMHSA, which operates under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to take into account mortality rates and lack of access to treatment and services when allocating State Targeted Response Opioid Crisis Grants, rather than making grant determinations for states based on population size.‎

“The release of this federal funding to combat opioids is good news.  It is vital to help people get treatment and recovery assistance.  But I remain concerned about the Trump Administration’s proposed cuts to programs that assist law enforcement and community groups working to combat the opioid crisis.  President Trump also continues to undermine the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, which are critical to expanding access to substance abuse treatment in Rhode Island,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, noting that Trump’s 2020 budget would cut nearly $100 million from opioid-specific grant programs for law enforcement and community groups, in addition to repealing the ACA and making devastating cuts to state Medicaid programs.

“Rhode Island is among the hardest hit states in the country when it comes to opioid addiction.  That’s why the delegation fought to take into account the deadliness of the epidemic in each state when deciding how to allocate federal support,” said Senator Whitehouse, who co-authored the landmark bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the sweeping legislation guiding the federal response to the opioid epidemic that was signed into law in 2016.  “I am proud my colleagues and I in the delegation were able to increase Rhode Island’s share of these important funds.”

“To effectively combat the opioid overdose epidemic, we must allocate federal resources where they are most needed,” said Congressman Langevin. “As a state with one of the highest rates of opioid addiction, Rhode Island needs help from Washington. I was proud to join my colleagues in the delegation to increase Rhode Island’s funding, and I will continue to fight for policies in Congress to help end this public health crisis.”

“The devastating impacts of the opioid epidemic sweeping our nation have not been lost on hardworking families right here in Rhode Island.  Fighting back against debilitating addiction and making sure that people in need can get their lives back on track requires bold investment that gives trained professionals the necessary tools and resources to continue their work,” said Congressman Cicilline.  “I’m proud of our consistent efforts at the federal level to bring home this funding that will do just that.  Crucial investments like these are how we combat this epidemic one person at a time.  I’ll continue to fight to bring home valuable federal funds to continue giving our treatment professionals and first responders on the front line of this fight the tools they need to bring an end to this crisis once and for all.”

The funding comes via SAMSHA’s State Opioid Response Grants program, which will help states increase access to medication-assisted treatment and reduce opioid overdose related deaths through the provision of prevention, treatment, and recovery activities for those battling opioid addiction.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, 324 Rhode Islanders died of accidental drug overdoses in 2017.


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921