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Senators Hassan, Shaheen Cosponsor Bipartisan Legislation to Combat the Fentanyl, Heroin, and Opioid Epidemic

(Washington, DC) – Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen today cosponsored the bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 as part of their efforts to combat the fentanyl, heroin, and opioid epidemic that’s devastating communities across New Hampshire.

As a member of Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Senator Hassan has fought to include a number of key New Hampshire priorities in the legislation. Last week, the Senator also participated in a HELP Committee hearing about the bipartisan bill to solicit input from experts and families.

“The bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act is an important step forward in getting resources to those on the front lines of the opioid epidemic and those struggling with addiction in New Hampshire and across the country,” Senator Hassan said. “I am pleased that this bipartisan legislation includes several measures I’ve championed in order to strengthen prevention, treatment, recovery, and support for first responders, including a bill I introduced to expand existing treatment centers to serve as Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers. I will continue working across the aisle to ensure that this legislation is taken up as quickly as possible and to ensure that any federal funding for the opioid crisis is prioritized for states like New Hampshire that have been hardest-hit by this crisis.”

“I’m glad to cosponsor this bipartisan effort to combat the opioid crisis, and appreciate the Senate health committee’s inclusion of key priorities that I’ve fought for that will help New Hampshire get the funding it needs,” said Senator Shaheen. “Extending the authorization of NASPER, the prescription drug monitoring program, and dedicating specific funding to states with the highest mortality rates from drug overdoses will play a crucial role in curbing this epidemic and delivering much-needed relief to our first responders, healthcare providers and recovery centers. As our communities remain on the frontlines of this emergency, I’ll continue to work across the aisle to prioritize federal assistance that New Hampshire desperately needs and deserves.”

See below for a number of the key priorities that Senator Hassan worked as a member of the Senate HELP Committee to include in the bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018:

  • Bipartisan Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act, introduced by Senators Hassan and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). This bipartisan measure would create a pilot program allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants to expand existing centers to serve as “Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers,” which would provide a full range of treatment and recovery services, including medication-assisted treatment, counseling, recovery housing, job training and support reintegrating into the workforce, community-based and peer recovery support services, and more. Similar legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Bipartisan Advancing Cutting-Edge (ACE) Research Act, introduced by Senators Hassan, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Todd Young (R-IN). The measure would provide the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with more flexible authority to conduct innovative research to increase scientific understanding and lead to ways to prevent, treat, diagnose and cure disease, including research that is urgently required to respond to public health threats such as the opioid crisis.
  • Prioritizing funding for hardest hit states. Senators Hassan and Shaheen have led efforts to ensure that states such as New Hampshire get a fair share of federal funding to combat the opioid crisis, and they will keep working to ensure that funding is prioritized for hardest hit states.
  • Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment. The bill contains provisions similar to those included in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 and the Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act, both of which Senator Hassan joined in introducing, to expand the number of patients that qualified physicians can treat with life-saving medication-assisted treatment such as buprenorphine to 275 patients, and to make permanent the ability of nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe medication-assisted treatment.
  • Addressing opioid treatment workforce shortage. The bill includes concepts similar to legislation Senator Hassan introduced with Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to address the ongoing shortage of professionals needed to provide treatment and recovery services as communities combat the opioid abuse epidemic.
  • The legislation addresses a number of key priorities that were also focuses of the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 that Senator Hassan joined a number of her colleagues in introducing:

o    Expands a first responder training program and helps ensure that first responders are safe when they respond to overdoses, a priority Senators Hassan and Shaheen have heard about directly from New Hampshire first responders and public safety officials.

o    Directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop best practices on recovery housing, a key New Hampshire priority.

o    Authorizes grants to help states implement plans of safe care for substance-exposed infants.

  • Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, to develop best practices and issue grants for prevention and treatment of and recovery from substance use disorder in children, adolescents, and young adults.

Senator Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the lead Democrat of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee, has led efforts in Congress to respond to the opioid crisis. As a result of her advocacy on the bipartisan Common Sense Caucus and her engagement during the writing of the funding bill that was recently signed into law, Senator Shaheen helped secure the $3.3 billion in additional resources. This funding will go towards a number of key programs through the Department of Health and Human Services for treatment and prevention, the Department of Justice for law enforcement and grant resources, and other federal agencies to help communities impacted by the opioid epidemic. Senator Shaheen has also introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Hassan that would change how federal agencies determine State Targeted Response Opioid Crisis Grant funding to prioritize states with the highest mortality rates.