Shaheen Statement on Passage of Shaheen-Sponsored Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA)July 13, 2016
**CARA includes Shaheen’s legislation to support state prescription drug monitoring programs through National All-Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) program that will now head to the President’s desk**
**Shaheen has led the effort in Congress to pass emergency funding for law enforcement and treatment providers on the frontlines of the opioid crisis**
(Washington, D.C.) – Today the U.S. Senate, by a vote of 92 to 2, passed legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) aimed at curbing the heroin and opioid crisis. Shaheen voted in favor of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which authorizes support for treatment providers and law enforcement’s efforts to combat drug trafficking, though it does not provide funding for these programs. CARA includes Shaheen’s legislation to support state prescription drug monitoring programs by reauthorizing the National All-Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) program. This legislation to reauthorize NASPER, first introduced by Shaheen in 2014, is now headed to President Obama’s desk.
“CARA is good bipartisan legislation that sets the country in the right direction but it doesn’t address the immediate need for funding first responders and treatment programs in our communities,” said Senator Shaheen. “Without funding, Congress is offering a life preserver with no air in it. As written, CARA-related funding would likely reach New Hampshire in two years, and as any police officer or treatment provider in New Hampshire can tell you, they desperately need these resources today. I will continue to call on Congress to rise to meet this challenge and appropriate emergency funding 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. Congress is long overdue in delivering desperately needed funding to first responders and treatment providers.”
Shaheen continued, “Prescription drug monitoring programs play an important role in curbing the threat of addiction in our communities and my legislation to reauthorize NASPER will help local officials to continue strengthening and expanding their drug monitoring programs. While this is a major win for treatment providers, the program needs dollars behind it to get back online and help providers identify and reduce drug abuse.”
Shaheen has continued to lead the effort in Congress to pass emergency supplemental funding for those on the frontlines of the opioid addiction crisis. Her legislation would provide supplemental appropriations totaling $600 million to programs at the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services that focus on treatment and recovery, as well as state and local law enforcement initiatives. In June, the Senate passed a motion filed by Shaheen to instruct lawmakers reconciling the House and Senate versions of the Shaheen-sponsored Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) to include funding to states for prevention and treatment.
Key facts on the need to provide funding for CARA:
- CARA doesn’t provide funding, but only recommends funding levels that still need to be approved by Congress in an appropriations bill.
- Congress is still working on appropriations bills for next year, but currently they do not contain funding for CARA. Appropriations bills cannot fund legislation that hasn’t been authorized yet.
- CARA will likely be funded in next year’s FY2018 appropriations bills.
- That means that it won’t be until 2018 that federal agencies will be able to determine how much CARA funding will go to New Hampshire. Congress cannot direct spending to specific states.
- Bottom line: it will very likely be two years until New Hampshire sees any funding related to CARA.
Why Shaheen’s emergency funding legislation is necessary for New Hampshire:
- Appropriations bills that are currently working their way through Congress have an increase of approximately $120 million for opioid response programs, but again, this funding would go out next year and is not nearly enough to mount a response to the opioid epidemic.
- According to NH officials and local leaders, the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant Program has been the most valuable federal program for New Hampshire as it responds to the opioid epidemic and these bills do not provide an increase for this key program.
- Emergency funding, if it were to pass Congress, would be dispersed by agencies this year. Senator Shaheen’s bill would provide $600 million immediately to state and local programs, including $300 million for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.
- Bottom line: to prevent states like New Hampshire from having to wait two years for CARA-related funding and funding for programs that are already working, Congress needs to pass emergency funding. Unfortunately, Republicans have rejected multiple attempts to pass emergency funding.
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