Durbin: We Need a Forceful Response to the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic
Joins colleagues in call for McConnell to take up measure to fund response to crisis
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today spoke on the Senate floor calling out Republicans for failing to provide immediate funding for new efforts to combat opioid addiction in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. Durbin noted that the CARA bill freezes funding for addiction treatment at a time when the number of deaths from opioid and heroin overdoses continues to grow.
“When only 12% of the people in Illinois are able to receive care for their addiction and there is a 12-week wait at facilities for vulnerable patients to get into drug treatment, authorizing new programs, which this bill does, is good but not good enough. We need to make an investment. We need to put taxpayers' dollars behind this commitment to end this epidemic, and it's needed now,” said Durbin. “Failing to provide the dollars today is not going to help those who are currently suffering. It's not going to help that mother who was awake all last night worrying about a son or a daughter who is facing an addiction, praying they can get that child they love into treatment in time to break that addiction and save their lives.”
Last month, Senator Durbin introduced comprehensive legislation to prevent prescription opioid addiction, as four out of five heroin users started by misusing prescription opioids. The Addiction Prevention and Responsible Opioid Practices Act (A-PROP Act) would curb the number of opioids flooding the market, increase accountability to ensure responsible prescribing practices, and support prevention efforts to reduce drug diversion and addiction.
Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor are available here.
Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.
Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available for TV Stations using FTP in high definition here.
Durbin today joined his colleagues in calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to schedule a vote on legislation providing substantial funding to fulfill the promises outlined in the CARA bill and address the opioid addition epidemic in the United States.
The full letter from Senate Democrats can be found below:
July 13, 2016
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
United States Senate
Washington DC 20510
Dear Leader McConnell:
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) holds great promise for the fight against opioid use disorders. However, that promise -- to realize its potential to help families coping with the devastating toll of this epidemic – can only be realized with real dollars needed to deliver life-saving prevention and treatment services. Until then, the job is not done. We urge you to finish the job by committing real, immediate funding to actually tackle this epidemic head-on.
Fortunately, legislation to accomplish this critical task is ready and available for consideration. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s emergency supplemental legislation would commit $600 million in funding to address the crisis right now. Similar language received bipartisan support in the Senate when we debated CARA earlier this year. While the Shaheen legislation followed the Senate’s tradition of not offsetting emergency funding, the conference committee also rejected $920 million for addiction treatment, consistent with the President’s budget request, which was fully offset with bipartisan proposals. With the opioid epidemic crippling communities around the country, every day that counsellors and treatment centers do not have the resources to help those fighting opioid use disorders is a day lost. We hope that you will schedule a vote on legislation that provides substantial funding to address the opioid and heroin epidemic as soon as possible.
It is also imperative that we take on the opioid epidemic without undermining work in other areas critical to public health. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill contains a $457 million increase in funding for heroin and opioid prevention and treatment, it also makes unacceptable cuts to important accounts elsewhere. The same Americans who suffer from opioid use disorders may also need access to birth control; they may also need mammograms to detect early onset breast cancer; and they may also need health insurance through the private insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, House Republican appropriators zeroed out funding for accounts or eliminated provisions dedicated to these purposes.
We owe all Americans a strong response to the opioid crisis that shows we can work together and eschew extreme partisan goals or political games. That means providing real dollars immediately, strengthening other public health priorities, and staying away from poison pill riders. The American people have called on the Senate to do its job and pass emergency funding for opioid use disorder prevention and treatment services. We stand ready to act when you are.
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