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Shaheen, Baldwin Introduce Legislation to Give Local Communities Tools to Combat the Substance Use Disorder Epidemic

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act to give local communities resources to better combat the opioid and substance use disorder epidemic. The legislation will improve State Opioid Response (SOR) grants – an important tool for communities’ comprehensive response to this public health crisis epidemic – by providing additional investments in and flexibility for states and local communities.   

“For years, the State Opioid Response Grant Program has been an essential tool for states like New Hampshire that are on the frontlines of this crisis. That’s precisely why I’ve worked to create flexibility within the program to adapt to how this epidemic evolved over the years. And that’s why I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Baldwin to authorize the lifesaving SOR grant program to continue providing resources and flexibility to fight this scourge,” said Senator Shaheen. “We cannot take our eyes off the substance misuse crisis, and I’ll keep fighting to ensure New Hampshire gets its fair share of resources to protect future generations from succumbing to addiction.” 

“As the opioid and substance use disorder crisis continues to plague American families, I am working to ensure local and Tribal communities have the resources and flexibility they need to support prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts,” said Senator Baldwin. “Washington needs to step up and better address the opioid and use disorder crisis, and this legislation helps strengthen the partnership with state and local communities and helps them effectively respond to this epidemic.” 

“The SAMHSA State Opioid Response grant program has proven to be a vital tool in our nation’s ongoing struggle to address opioid and substance use disorders, providing critical support for evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery support services,” said American Psychiatric Association CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A.. “In providing this essential program with enhanced funding and flexibility, the State Opioid Response Authorization Act would help to immediately reduce unmet treatment needs across the country, and critically, reduce overdose-related deaths. The American Psychiatric Association enthusiastically supports this important legislation and urges Congress to swiftly take it up for consideration.” 

Specifically, the State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act would: 

  • Provide additional flexibility to states and Tribes by allowing funds to address stimulant misuse and use disorders, including for cocaine and methamphetamine; 
  • Allocate five percent of funding for Tribal communities, which have experienced some of the highest number and increases of overdose fatalities; 
  • Support states and Tribes with additional guidance on how funding can be better used to increase access to recovery support services, including services to address housing needs, transportation needs, food insecurity, employment, and family services; 
  • Increase the minimum grant award to $12 million and institute a “transition period” in the event that a state or Tribe’s allocation will be reduced by more than 10 percent; 
  • Provide technical assistance to states and Tribes to enhance grant applications, as well as outreach and direct support to rural and underserved communities and providers; and 
  • Authorize $2.7 billion per year for fiscal years 2023 through 2027. 

The State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act is supported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry and American Psychiatric Association.   

Full text of the legislation is available here

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Shaheen has fought to deliver resources to combat the substance use disorder crisis in New Hampshire. The fiscal year (FY) 2022 funding legislation that was signed into law provided $1.5 billion in State Opioid Response (SOR) grant funding, as well as the continuation of a 15 percent set-aside that Shaheen fought to secure in 2018 for hard-hit states like New Hampshire. Shaheen also included a key provision from the 2019 version of her legislation - the Turn the Tide Act - to provide flexibility for treatment providers to use State Opioid Response (SOR) grant dollars to help patients suffering from meth and cocaine dependency, in addition to opioid use disorders. Shaheen wrote the provision in response to discussions with New Hampshire treatment providers. Over the past four years, New Hampshire has received approximately $92 million from these grants to combat the opioid epidemic in the state. In FY 2022 government funding legislation, Shaheen secured $572.5 million to help communities and first responders respond to substance use crises, including opioid addiction and drug trafficking. This also includes $415 million for Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) grants, which support programs like drug, mental health and veteran treatment courts and substance use disorder treatment programs administered by state and local correctional facilities. Last year, Senator Shaheen helped introduce the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery (CARA) Act 3.0 to help combat the opioid epidemic by increasing the funding authorization levels for these programs. Shaheen also secured funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) anti-heroin task force and anti-methamphetamine task force programs.