Shaheen Statement on Bipartisan Opioid Response Legislation Becoming Law

October 24, 2018

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued the following statement after bipartisan, comprehensive opioid response legislation that overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Congress was signed into law. The Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act is a robust package of opioid response efforts to help turn the tide of the crisis, and includes a number of critical measures to help states like New Hampshire that are on the frontlines of the epidemic, including medication-assisted treatment, alternative pain medication and improvements to maternity care coverage for pregnant women and new mothers who need substance misuse recovery treatment. 

This legislation also contains significant priorities secured by Shaheen, including enabling the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to prioritize funding for states like New Hampshire that are hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, and extending authorization of prescription drug monitoring programs. The bill includes provisions from legislation Senator Shaheen introduced with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to establish a National Peer-Run Training and Technical Assistance Center for Addiction Recovery Support, and provides peer support networks with the resources and training they need to help combat the opioid crisis. 

“This new law is the product of good-faith, bipartisan negotiations in Congress and provides New Hampshire with new tools and resources to fight the opioid crisis,” said Shaheen. “Fighting this epidemic remains – and must always remain – an area where Republicans and Democrats can work together. Battling this crisis is a top priority for me, and I’ll continue to reach across the aisle to advance measures in Congress that will build on the progress made in the legislation signed into law today so we can finally overcome the scourge of opioid drugs in our communities.” 

The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act will improve the ability of the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), as well as the Departments of Justice and Transportation, to address the opioid crisis, including the ripple effects of the epidemic on children, families, and communities, and to improve data sharing between states. 

Additional New Hampshire priorities that Senator Shaheen worked to include in this legislation:

  • Family-Focused Treatment and Foster Care—this legislation authorizes a $20 million grant program for HHS to support states in the development of family-focused treatment programs for instances where a child enters foster care as a result of parental substance misuse.
  • Substance Abuse Prevention—this legislation reauthorizes a number of critical prevention programs including the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Drug-Free Communities Program, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, the Department of Justice Drug Court Program, the COPS Anti-Meth Program and the COPS Anti-Heroin Program. It also requires HHS to disseminate best practices on keeping families affected by substance misuse together and authorizes a grant program to protect children with parents struggling from substance use disorder. 
  • Synthetic Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances—this legislation closes a legal loophole that has made it difficult for law enforcement to prosecute traffickers of controlled substance analogues like fentanyl.
  • Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention—this legislation requires shipments from foreign countries that use our postal system to provide electronic advance data before they cross our borders and enter the United States, so that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can better target potential illegal packages and stop synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanyl from being shipped through U.S. borders to drug traffickers in the United States. 

Senator Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the lead Democrat of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations 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 omnibus funding bill that was signed into law in March, Shaheen helped secure $3.3 billion in additional resources. This funding will help communities impacted by the opioid epidemic by supporting prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and law enforcement programs at the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice and other federal agencies. Senator Shaheen was instrumental in securing the $142 million set-aside in the government funding bill for opioid response efforts that will target hardest-hit states like New Hampshire. As a result of these efforts, New Hampshire received a more than seven-fold increase in annual grant award funding provided through the State Opioid Response Grant program. 

Shaheen helped secure $400 million for opioid prevention and treatment for fiscal year (FY) 2019, which is $6 million more than last year’s funding level, in government spending legislation that was signed into law last month.