November 5, 2017

Reed, Whitehouse Call on President to Support Much-Needed Funding to Stem Opioid Epidemic

President’s recent emergency declaration did not include new funding

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and nineteen of their colleagues in sending a letter to the White House calling on President Trump to support additional funding necessary to combat the opioid epidemic.

“We appreciate your formal declaration that the opioid epidemic is a National Public Health Emergency.  While this is a positive step forward, more action must be taken in order to craft a timely and effective national strategy that will achieve long term solutions to this crisis.  Specifically, we are concerned that your declaration does not yet include any additional funding resources for key programs and initiatives that will help our patients, providers, first responders and researchers who desperately need more assistance,” wrote the senators.

The senators continued, “Researchers, providers, patients, first responders, experts and policy makers agree that investing sufficient and timely resources are of paramount importance in order to allow our communities to effectively combat this epidemic.  The President’s Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis agrees.  The final Commission report released this week recommends that your Administration increase access to treatment and recovery programs, as well as expand the capacity for medication-assisted treatment and first responder access to overdose reversal drugs.  As such, we encourage your Administration to work closely with Congress to swiftly provide the necessary additional and sustained funding to carry out a multi-faceted approach that supports activities related to research, education, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.”

Opioid overdoses claimed 326 lives in Rhode Island in 2016, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health.  Whitehouse was a lead author of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, sweeping legislation designed to combat the epidemic, which was cosponsored by Reed and signed into law in 2016.

The letter to President Trump can be found here.


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