CHN: Senate Voting on Bill to Fight Opioid Addiction
Senate Voting on Bill to Fight Opioid Addiction
The Senate is expected to vote Monday evening to move forward on a bill to address addiction to opioids, a class of drug that includes prescription painkillers and heroin. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524) would expand efforts to reign in prescription drug and heroin abuse, strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs, ramp up treatment and intervention programs for individuals who are addicted to opioids, and increase access to medication that can reverse overdoses. The bill, sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rob Portman (R-OH), has strong bipartisan support.
The Senate is expected to consider several amendments to the bill, including one from Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that would provide $600 million in emergency supplemental funding to fight the crisis. Some Republicans are expected to object to this amendment because of the additional spending, which could be proposed without offsetting cuts. The FY16 omnibus spending bill passed last fall included about $400 million to address the opioid and heroin abuse epidemic. President Obama’s FY17 budget requested $1 billion in new mandatory funding over two years and an additional $559 million in discretionary funding for FY17 for this fight.
Statistics show that more Americans die of drug overdoses than in car crashes, and the majority of those overdoses involve prescription medications. In fact, four in five heroin users started out by misusing prescription opioid pain medications. The rate of opioid-related deaths quadrupled between 2002 and 2014, taking the lives of 78 people each day. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell recently noted that 2.2 million people need treatment for opioid abuse, but only about 1 million are receiving it.