Shaheen Introduces CARA 3.0 to Expand Access to Treatment & Prevention and Bolster Fight against Addiction Epidemic

March 26, 2021

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in introducing the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 3.0 to help combat the opioid epidemic that has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. The bill increases the funding authorization levels for the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) programs enacted in 2016.

CARA was a bipartisan, national effort designed to ensure that federal resources were devoted to evidence-based education, treatment and recovery programs that work. In FY 2021, CARA programs were funded at $782 million. Several key provisions of CARA 2.0 were enacted as part of the SUPPORT Act on October 24, 2018. CARA 3.0 builds on these efforts by increasing the funding authorization levels and laying out new policy reforms to strengthen the federal government’s response to this crisis.

“Over the last year, we’ve witnessed the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbate the substance use disorder epidemic in New Hampshire. Essentially, we’ve experienced one public health crisis exacerbate another. It has taken a devastating toll on our communities and it demands Congress’ attention and action,” said Shaheen. “The CARA 3.0 Act comes at a critical time, providing the resources needed to invest in substance use disorder education, prevention, treatment and recovery programs across the country. I’m also proud this new package includes provisions from bipartisan legislation I worked on with Senator Capito, the NO PAIN Act, to improve access to alternatives for opioids for pain management through Medicare. Turning the tide on the substance use disorder crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, and I hope Congress acts swiftly to pass this bipartisan legislation to address this public health crisis.”

CARA 3.0 policy changes include new research into non-opioid pain management alternatives and into long-term treatment outcomes to sustain recovery from addiction. The bill establishes a National Commission for Excellence in Post-Overdose Response to improve the quality and safety of care for drug overdoses and substance use disorders. It also requires physicians and pharmacists use their state PDMP upon prescribing or dispensing opioids and mandates physician education on addiction, treatment and pain management. The bill authorizes $300 million to expand evidence-based medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and $200 million to build a national infrastructure for recovery support services to help individuals move successfully from treatment into long-term recovery.

The CARA 3.0 bill text is here.

Shaheen has spearheaded crucial legislation and funding to stem the opioid epidemic, including through her leadership on the pivotal Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies which oversees funding for the Department of Justice and its related anti-opioid programs. Yesterday, she reintroduced the Turn the Tide Act to invest $63 billion over the next 10 years to bolster our national response to the substance use disorder crisis. In government funding legislation signed into law in 2019, Shaheen included a key provision from the 2019 version of 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. Shaheen retained this provision in government funding legislation for fiscal year (FY) signed into law in December. The FY2021 funding legislation also provided $1.5 billion in SOR grant funding, as well as the continuing of a 15 percent set-aside that Shaheen fought to secure in 2018 for hard-hit states like New Hampshire. These combined efforts led to a more than tenfold increase in federal treatment and prevention funding for New Hampshire. Over the past four years, New Hampshire has received approximately $92 million from these grants Shaheen helped secure to combat the opioid epidemic in the state, with the hardest-hit state set-aside responsible for the majority of those funds.

The COVID relief package provides $4.25 billion in funding for substance use disorder treatment and mental health care, recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic can compound the nation’s substance use disorder epidemic. Shaheen also recently reintroduced the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation (NOPAIN) Act, which aims to help address barriers to non-opioid pain management for those enrolled in Medicare, which will help stem the opioid epidemic across the nation.

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