Markey, Senate Democrats Demand Passage Of Emergency Funding To Tackle Prescription Opioid And Heroin Crisis
Legislation Passed Out Of Judiciary Committee Today Is A Step to Addressing Crisis But Doesn’t Provide Real Resources – Senate Dems Demand Real Funding When Bill Comes to Floor
Public Health Officials And Local Law Enforcement Assert That Immediate Federal Funding For Prevention, Treatment, Emergency First Responders & More Is Vital To Stemming The Opioid Epidemic On The Ground
Senate Dems To GOP: Rhetoric Won’t Solve Prescription Opioid & Heroin Crisis – We Need Real Action
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senate Democrats called on Senate Republicans to back up their rhetoric and support passage of desperately-needed emergency funding, such as that proposed by Senator Shaheen, and significant new funding for a national consumer education campaign on opioids, to help stem the opioid abuse crisis in states throughout the country. Senate Democrats, led by Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Ed Markey (D-MA), made the announcement at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol following passage of legislation out of the Senate Judiciary committee that authorizes, but does not allocate, new funding to address the prescription abuse and heroin crisis.
In the United States, drug overdose deaths have exceeded car crashes as the number one cause of injury death. Two Americans die of drug overdoses every hour and 2,500 youths aged between 12 and 17 abuse prescription drugs for the first time every day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids—a class of drugs that include prescription pain medications and heroin—were involved in 28,648 deaths in 2014.
Despite this, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that in 2013, only approximately 11 percent of people in the United States that needed substance use disorder treatment actually received it. Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has reported that there are approximately 32 providers for every 1,000 individuals needing substance use disorder treatment, further demonstrating the urgency for Congress to approve emergency federal funds, such as that proposed by Senator Shaheen, that will provide additional resources for prevention, treatment, emergency first responders and more to stem the opioid epidemic on the ground.
For example, Senator Shaheen’s legislation, the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, would allocate $600 million to specific programs at the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services for local governments to utilize in this fight, including $200 million to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, $10 million to the COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force Grant Program and $225 million to the Substance Abuse Preventing and Treatment Block Grant Program. Senator Manchin’s legislation would fund a grant program for states or non-profits to conduct culturally sensitive consumer education about opioid abuse.
“The legislation that passed out of the Judiciary Committee today is a good step, but we need to provide the real resources necessary to address an opioid crisis that is only growing in numbers and severity,” said Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass). “Without real funding, this effort is a mere Band-Aid when we need a tourniquet and that comes in the form of emergency funding. We are hemorrhaging lives by the day, and supplemental funding is the first step needed to staunch the flow of suffering and death. I call on my colleagues in both parties to join this effort to respond to this unprecedented public health crisis.”
“The opioid and heroin abuse crisis in the United States is a national emergency and we need to fight back today,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY). “All of the rhetoric in the world isn’t going to help expand access to Nalaxone to prevent overdose deaths and endless Senate speeches and authorization bills won’t mean more beds at treatment centers to curb addiction. It’s time for Republicans to put their money where their mouth is and pass emergency funding that will really make a difference in this fight.”
“Congress owes those on the frontlines of this crisis the support they need to stem the tide. My legislation provides $600 million for programs at the state and local level to do this,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “There’s no good reason why Congress can’t work in a bipartisan way to make this happen. A little more than a year ago, Congress provided $5.4 billion in funding to combat the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa that led to one death in the United States. We lost nearly 47,000 people to drug overdoses in 2014.”
“The epidemic of opioid abuse could not be a more serious problem in our communities,” said Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee. “So we need to answer it with a serious response, and that means Republicans are going to have to work with us on funding that helps families who are struggling, without delay. Families and communities are waiting for us to deliver the federal resources this crisis deserves—and we need to break through the gridlock, work together, and get this done.”
“With 51 people dying every day due to a prescription opioid overdose, it is critical that we address the root problem of opioid abuse by educating consumers and prescribers,” said Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). “In order to curb this epidemic we need to make sure prescribers receive the education and resources they need to properly prescribe opioid medications.”