Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today introduced legislation to secure resources to directly combat the devastating opioid epidemic that has swept the nation. The Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act invests $45 billion into the prevention, detection, surveillance and treatment of opioid abuse. This legislation builds on the bipartisan efforts that were included in the 21st Century Cures Act to provide states with additional resources and a long-term investment in this fight. Loebsack was joined by Reps. Annie Kuster (NH), Carol Shea-Porter (NH) and Grace Napolitano (CA) to introduce this legislation and it is the companion to a bill recently introduced in the Senate by Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.
“In my travels across Iowa and in meetings with law enforcement officers, I have heard firsthand about the need for additional local resources to help combat the devastating opioid epidemic that is sweeping across the nation,” said Loebsack. “Men and women, old and young, rich and poor, rural and urban, no group has been immune to this epidemic. To best address the problem this commonsense legislation directs the necessary resources to states and local communities, where assistance is needed most.”
“Communities across New Hampshire and around the country are in the grips of a devastating opioid epidemic, and adequate funding is needed to combat it,” said Congresswoman Kuster, founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force. “This legislation will help provide those on the frontlines of this crisis with the resources they need to help strengthen treatment, prevention and recovery efforts. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together and swiftly pass this bill, and in turn, help save lives and repair families and communities that are suffering from this ongoing scourge.”
“Over the past year, we have developed bipartisan consensus around evidence-backed approaches to address the raging opioid crisis with treatment, prevention, and enforcement strategies. However, all of these strategies require adequate and appropriately distributed federal funding,” said Shea-Porter. “It’s past time for Congress to invest in fighting this crisis on a scale that matches its severity, and today’s bill will spur a much-needed investment.”
Specifically, the Combatting the Opioid Epidemic Act would:
· Authorize and appropriate $4,474,800,000 each fiscal year for substance abuse programs for the individual states through 2027. This funding would be added to the Account for the State Response to the Opioid Abuse Crisis created through the 21st Century Cures Act, which passed with strong bipartisan support last Congress.
· Expand the use of funding already allowed under the 21st Century Cures Act. Under this legislation, states would be able to use this money for detection, surveillance, and treatment of co-occurring infections, as well as for surveillance, data collection and reporting on the number of opioid overdose deaths.
· Support research on addiction and pain related to substance abuse, and authorizes and appropriates $50,400,000 for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2022. Under the bill, the National Institutes of Health would be responsible for distributing this money.