In Special Opioid Hearing, Shaheen Stresses the Importance of the ACA and Updating the Opioid Funding Formula in Combating the Opioid Epidemic
**SHAHEEN: “One of the things [my friend] said to me which really resonated is that ‘I hope I can live to be 80 so I can get the youngest one through high school.’ We should not have that happening in the United States of America.”**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies took part in today’s special hearing on addressing the opioid crisis in America. During the hearing, Shaheen expressed her concerns with Congressional Republican attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the recent tax bill passed by Senate Republicans that repeals the ACA’s individual mandate, and the potential impact on those who seek treatment for substance use disorders. The Affordable Care Act, specifically Medicaid expansion, has played a critical role in providing access to treatment and recovery services. Shaheen also shared a personal story of a friend who had to adopt his grandchildren because his daughter and her husband were affected by substance use disorders. “One of the things he said to me which really resonated is that ‘I hope I can live to be 80 so I can get the youngest one through high school,’” said Shaheen. “We should not have that happening in the United States of America.”
Shaheen also stressed the need for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which operates under the 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. When speaking with Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use at SAMHSA, Shaheen said, “I would urge you at SAMHSA, and all of us in Congress are happy to work with you on this bipartisan issue,… to go back and look at what can be done that will be more effective than a pittance of help for those states that most need it.”
Senator Shaheen, the lead Democrat on the Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee, sent a letter to President Trump in November with a group of 22 senators, calling on the President to support additional funding necessary to fight the opioid epidemic. Senator Shaheen has been a leader in Congress on combating the opioid crisis and recently introduced bipartisan legislation that would prioritize federal funding for states that have been hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, including New Hampshire. She also helped unveil legislation that would provide $45 billion to respond to the epidemic, which is the largest opioid response bill to date.