Shaheen-Sponsored Legislation to Address Opioid Crisis Passes Senate

March 10, 2016

**Passage comes the week after the Republican majority rejected her amendment to provide desperately needed funding to first responders and treatment providers**

**Shaheen renews her call for these resources and vows to continue fighting for them as long as it takes**

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that authorizes a series of new initiatives to help stem the tide of the heroin and opioid crisis. Senator Shaheen voted in favor of the legislation that passed 94 (Y) to 1 (N). Passage of this legislation comes the week after Republicans in the Senate rejected Senator Shaheen’s amendment, by a vote of 48 (Y) to 47 (N), to provide emergency funding to states, first responders and treatment providers. Due to obstruction from the Republican majority, her amendment needed to meet a 60 vote threshold to proceed.

“As any police officer or treatment provider in New Hampshire can tell you, they desperately need resources today,” said Shaheen. “Not a year from now. Not two years from now--but today. CARA is good legislation that will help fight the heroin pandemic in the long term. However, without real dollars behind this bill, it’s the equivalent of offering a life preserver with no air in it. The Senate must rise to meet this challenge as it has done in previous health emergencies. There is simply no excuse for Congress providing emergency funding for the Ebola and swine flu epidemics, while ignoring an opioid crisis that’s killing a person a day in the Granite State. My emergency funding legislation will save lives and I will seek every opportunity to pass it.”

Many Republicans in the Senate have stated that Senator Shaheen’s amendment was unnecessary, claiming that last year’s omnibus provided enough funding to federal programs. Senator Shaheen corrected these assertions:   

“The omnibus provided a modest boost to key federal programs that had been underfunded for many years,” said Shaheen. “This increase was very welcome but it does not begin to address the magnitude of the opioid crisis. Nobody confronting this pandemic will tell you that they’re getting the resources they desperately need from the federal government. The omnibus shouldn’t be used as an excuse for Congress to ignore the immediate need for resources in New Hampshire and across the country. The omnibus also didn’t provide a way to direct funding to first responders and treatment providers quickly. My amendment fast-tracks urgently needed resources specifically to those on the frontlines battling this pandemic.”

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act would authorize prevention and education to prevent the abuse of opioids and promote treatment and recovery. It would also expand the availability of the overdose reversal drug Narcan which has saved thousands of lives. Shaheen’s emergency funding legislation would provide supplemental appropriations totaling $600 million to programs at the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 would:

  • Authorizes additional prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations—to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery.
  • Authorizes expanded availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives.
  • Authorizes additional resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.
  • Authorizes additional disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.
  • Authorizes the launch of an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and interventions program.  While we have medications that can help treat addiction, there is a critical need to get the training and resources necessary to expand treatment best practices throughout the country.
  • Strengthens prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.

Senator Shaheen’s emergency funding amendment would have helped the following federal programs:

Department of Justice

  • Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (Byrne-JAG) - $230 million to fund state and local law enforcement initiatives associated with the heroin and opioid crisis, including approved treatment alternatives to incarceration.
  • COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force Grant - $10 million to assist state and local law enforcement with high per-capita levels of opioid and heroin use, targeting resources to support police drug interdiction operations on the ground (Section 204 of CARA).

Department of Health and Human Services

  • Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant- $300 million for states to fund programs related to prevention, treatment, recovery support and other services associated with the heroin and opioid crisis.  For many states, this program is the primary source of federal dollars to address the misuse of drugs.  This section also includes $15 million set aside specifically to improve treatment for pregnant and postpartum women (Section 501 of CARA). 
  • Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention for States- $50 million to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) work on prescription drug monitoring programs, community health system interventions, and rapid response projects.
  • Medication Assisted Treatment for Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction - $10 million to improve access in high-risk communities to medication-assisted treatment services for heroin and prescription opioids (Section 301 of CARA).