(Washington, DC)—U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02), issued the following statements after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the release of $485 million, authorized through the 21st Century Cures Act, to combat the opioid crisis. Of this amount, New Hampshire will receive $3.1 million.
“I welcome these additional resources which can immediately be put to work in New Hampshire to help those who need it most,” said Senator Shaheen. “Unfortunately, considering the severity of the opioid crisis in New Hampshire, not enough of this initial funding is directed to our state which is why I’ve been adamant in budget negotiations that more money go to areas with high overdose death rates. Additional funding for treatment, prevention, recovery and law enforcement will save lives in the Granite State and help communities that are working tirelessly to overcome this epidemic. Congress recently agreed with the New Hampshire delegation that hardest-hit states need more resources and to that end, set aside funds in the recently-passed government funding bill. I’ll continue to urge the Trump administration to implement this new law fairly for New Hampshire and finally deliver on the President’s promise to bring substantial help to our state.”
“I’m glad that the remainder of funding to combat the opioid crisis provided by the 21st Century Cures Act is getting out the door to help save lives and support those on the front lines of this crisis,” said Senator Hassan. “Separately, there is more federal funding on the way for New Hampshire as a result of the recent government funding bill, and I will keep working with Senator Shaheen and the rest of our Congressional delegation to ensure that New Hampshire gets a fair share of the funding set-aside for hardest-hit states in the government funding bill, and to ensure that this additional funding gets out the door as soon as possible. We know that we need far more federal resources to help boost treatment capacity and strengthen prevention, recovery, and law enforcement efforts, and I will keep fighting every single day to get our state the support we need to turn the tide of this devastating crisis.”
“I am pleased that New Hampshire will be receiving badly needed resources to help our communities, but overall, this grant is wholly inadequate,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “Our recovery community needs funding. During FY 2018 funding negotiations, I worked with senior appropriators and Congressional leadership to include money specifically for the hardest-hit states. The administration awarded less than one percent of the total funding to the state with the third-highest mortality rate, and it is nowhere near what our state needs to turn the tide in this deadly crisis. New Hampshire communities continue to receive far less than our fair share, and they are suffering because of this.”
“Those on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic need resources to expand prevention, treatment and long-term recovery efforts in New Hampshire,” said Congresswoman Kuster, the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force. “While this funding is important, it is not nearly enough to stem the tide of this crisis in our state. We’ve come together, both Republicans and Democrats, to appropriate billions in new funding to tackle the opioid epidemic and it’s now critical that the Trump Administration allocate that funding in a way that supports the states that have been hardest hit. I’ve worked with my Republican colleague Evan Jenkins of West Virginia to make clear that the opioid funding distribution formula must change. I’ll continue to work across the aisle to fight for the funding the Granite State needs to lead the country out of the addiction crisis.”
Senator Shaheen was instrumental in efforts to obtain this emergency funding through the 21st Century Cures Act that was signed into law by President Obama in 2016. Prioritizing hardest-hit states was a top priority for Senators Shaheen and Hassan during budget negotiations, and because of their efforts, $142 million will be set aside for states with the highest mortality rates. Overall, the budget agreement agreed to in February provides an additional $6 billion over two years, with the omnibus government funding bill providing the initial $3.3 billion for the first fiscal year.
Congresswoman Shea-Porter blew the whistle on New Hampshire’s low share of funding under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. She has cosponsored bipartisan legislation, the Federal Opioid Response Fairness Act (H.R. 5109), which would improve the funding formula so that that hardest-hit states receive their fair share of the funding. She has spoken forcefully about the administration’s failed response to the opioid crisis, and has urged the administration to prioritize the opioid epidemic.
Congresswoman Kuster, the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, has been vocal about the need for HHS to change its opioid funding distribution formula so that the hardest-hit states receive the support they need. She introduced the bipartisan Federal Opioid Response Fairness Act with Representative Evan Jenkins (R-WV) to make clear that the formula for opioid funding should take into account deaths per capita. Kuster also introduced the Respond NOW Act, which would provide $25 billion over five years to support efforts to tackle the opioid epidemic.
Recently, the New Hampshire delegation sent a letter to HHS and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), calling on the Trump administration to make sure New Hampshire gets its fair share of the set-aside opioid funding that the delegation was instrumental in securing. This letter recommends three specific policies for the administration to adopt:
- Ensure that the list of states eligible for the set-aside enhancement grant is short and targeted, in order to maximize funding effectiveness for states that need it most.
- Establish a $10 million minimum for grants from the set-aside enhancement funds.
- Distribute the set-aside funds to states based on a sliding scale according to mortality rate instead of distributing funds evenly amongst a list of eligible states.
New Hampshire had the third highest drug overdose death rate in the nation in 2016.