Collins, King Join Bipartisan Group of Senators to Urge Congressional Leadership to Commit Resources to Opioid Epidemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King joined a bipartisan group of nine senators in a letter to Leaders McConnell (R-Ky.) and Schumer (D-N.Y.) today calling on them to provide states like Maine with the resources they need to tackle the ongoing opioid epidemic. In their letter, the bipartisan group urged Senate leadership to include additional funding dedicated to addressing the public health crisis in the upcoming supplemental and omnibus appropriations legislation.

 

“Opioid misuse is not a partisan issue. It is ravaging communities in every state and preys upon individuals and families regardless of party affiliation,” wrote the Senators. “We have worked together on this issue in the past, and with the clear statement from Acting Secretary Hargan that the administration is looking for Congress to lead the way, it is time for us to work together again. As the Senate considers pending supplemental and omnibus appropriation legislation, please make every effort to ensure that new, substantial and sustained funding for the opioid epidemic is included in any legislative package.”

 

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins has secured significant funding for addiction treatment services. Earlier this fall, she announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $816 million – a $665 million increase over the past two years – for the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) opioid abuse treatment and prevention programs. The bill directs $500 million to State opioid crisis grants, which were authorized through the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill that was championed by Senator Collins and signed into law in December 2016.

 

Senator King has been a leading proponent of providing additional funding to fight the heroin and opioid crisis, which kills more than one person per day in Maine. He has repeatedly called on Congress and both the Obama and Trump administrations to fund laws and agencies that help address the drug epidemic. This fall, he led a letter to the Trump Administration urging additional funding for the opioid epidemic, and in October he joined with a group of colleagues to introduce the Combating the Opioid Epidemic Actlegislation that would invest $45 billion for prevention, detection, surveillance and treatment of opioids. Senator King also recently wrote to President Trump urging him to allow the government to negotiate lower prices for life-saving opioid overdose reversal drugs like Naloxone. 

 

The bipartisan group of senators include U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).

 

The full text of the letter is below and can be read HERE.

 

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Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Democratic Leader Schumer:

 

We write today to discuss our Nation’s opioid misuse epidemic and the urgent need for Congress to provide our states with the resources they need to deal with this public health emergency. In light of recent statements from the administration asking Congress to act on this issue, we believe the upcoming supplemental and omnibus appropriations legislation present significant opportunities for additional funding.

 

As you are aware, the opioid misuse epidemic is taking a toll on individuals, families and communities across the Nation. It is tearing apart families and straining the resources of local governments, law enforcement and public health agencies. Although we are pleased by the recent declaration of the epidemic as a public health emergency, that action needs to be coupled with adequate, sustained resources.

 

On December 4, Acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan stated that the administration is “looking forward to hearing from Congress about how they intend to address this.” That means it is up to us to act. We urge you to advance a spending package that will provide substantial new resources for our families and our communities who have waited too long for help. Although the measures in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the 21st Century Cures legislation and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 were important first steps, we must now build upon those efforts to ensure that states have adequate resources for first responders, enforcement, prevention efforts and treatment and recovery services. We must also provide more resources for research into addiction and pain, to gain a better understanding of the disease and develop innovative new treatments for substance misuse.

 

Opioid misuse is not a partisan issue. It is ravaging communities in every state and preys upon individuals and families regardless of party affiliation. We have worked together on this issue in the past, and with the clear statement from Acting Secretary Hargan that the administration is looking for Congress to lead the way, it is time for us to work together again. As the Senate considers pending supplemental and omnibus appropriation legislation, please make every effort to ensure that new, substantial and sustained funding for the opioid epidemic is included in any legislative package.

 

Thank you and we look forward to working with you to ensure that our communities receive the resources they need to effectively address this national crisis.

 

Sincerely,