Whitehouse Calls for Opioid Crisis Funding in Year-End Spending Bill
‘Senator Portman and I wrote a bipartisan law that directs the federal government to treat addiction like the public health crisis that it is . . . But it needs real funding behind it’
Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), author of comprehensive legislation to combat the opioid crisis and a member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement calling for increased funding to combat the opioid crisis in the year-end spending bill:
“We are fighting a long, difficult battle against opioid addiction and overdose. That battle claims hundreds of lives every week. It touches communities large and small in every corner of the country. And too many of those communities are struggling to muster the resources to do what we know can help turn the tide of this epidemic. Congress must provide those resources.
“Senator Portman and I wrote a bipartisan law that directs the federal government to treat addiction like the public health crisis that it is. It’s helping communities do more of the things we know work, like boosting medication-assisted treatment and first responder access to overdose reversal drugs. But it needs real funding behind it. It’s time for my Republican colleagues to listen to the stories we’ve heard from Rhode Islanders and Americans everywhere and provide opioid crisis funding in this bill.”
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 opioid epidemic, which was signed into law in 2016.
Whitehouse believes a number of changes are needed to ensure sufficient funding to address the opioid crisis: The Trump administration should issue the second half of the $1 billion authorized under the 21st Century Cures Act, which passed in 2016. Congress should boost funding across the board for programs to promote federal treatment and recovery programs, like those created by Whitehouse’s CARA law. Congress should also adjust the way federal agencies allocate opioid grant funding so that states like Rhode Island, which have the highest rates of opioid addiction and associated deaths, received sufficient resources.
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