Boston (April 20, 2017) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today announced that the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is releasing $11.7 million in grant funding to Massachusetts to support efforts to combat the prescription drug, heroin, and fentanyl epidemic. The total $500 million in grant funding for states announced today is the first batch of $1 billion authorized through the 21st Century Cures Act, which Senator Markey supported. Senator Markey continues to work for the immediate release to cities and towns of the remaining $500 million.
“This funding is critical for Massachusetts communities combatting the explosion of fentanyl on our streets that is fueling this opioid epidemic,” said Senator Markey. “I have heard enormous frustration from patients in recovery, devastated parents, concerned educators, and exhausted first responders, so this federal support is welcome news for our cities and towns desperate for help. While I support the release of this funding, recent Trump administration proposals to cut funding for critical health programs, including repeal of the Affordable Care Act, would only undermine Massachusetts efforts to combat the opioid crisis. One of my top priorities this year in the Senate will be to ensure that states get the other $500 million that was promised to them as soon as possible.”
Last month, Senators Markey, Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) introduced legislation to help halt the flow of illicit fentanyl from Mexico, China and other nations around the world into the United States. The INTERDICT Act would provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tools such as hi-tech chemical screening devices to help detect and interdict fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids. Additionally, last month, the U.S. Senate passed the resolution of Senator Markey and Rubio calling for international cooperation to address the trafficking of illicit fentanyl into the United States.
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, signed into law last year by President Obama includes a provision that mirrors a proposal in “The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT) Act”, legislation originally introduced by Senators Markey and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). For the first time, trained nurse practitioners and physician assistants will be able to provide life-saving medication-assisted treatment such as buprenorphine (also called Suboxone).