Durbin, Winnebago County Leaders Discuss Efforts to Combat Opioid Crisis, New Funding in Federal Spending Bill

ROCKFORD – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with local doctors and treatment professionals at Mercyhealth Hospital to learn about efforts in Winnebago County to combat the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. Senator Durbin highlighted major opioid-related funding increases in the fiscal year 2018 omnibus spending bill, which was signed into law last week, including more than $3 billion in new funding for treatment, prevention, and research to fight the opioid crisis. Durbin also discussed several pieces of bipartisan legislation he has introduced to expand treatment and prevent addiction before it starts by curbing the volume of addictive opioid painkillers on the market.


“Every day, 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose. The new funding included in last week’s federal spending bill represents an important step in our efforts to combat this epidemic. Tackling this crisis requires a coordinated effort from government agencies, health care providers, drug companies, law enforcement, and the treatment community. This means improving federal oversight on the volume and types of painkillers flooding the market, enhancing education and accountability in opioid prescribing, and dramatically increasing resources to respond to and treat opioid overdose and addiction,” Durbin said.


The FY18 funding bill signed into law last week includes $3.3 billion in new funding to prevent opioid addiction, expand naloxone access and medication-based treatment, improve drug monitoring programs, and research non-addictive pain treatment. While Senator Durbin applauds the funding included in the spending bill, he has also advocated for other important initiatives to reduce the volume of painkillers flooding the streets and to expand access to treatment for those currently suffering with an addiction.


Opioid Quota Reform Act

Earlier this month, Durbin introduced the bipartisan Opioid Quota Reform Act, which would strengthen the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) quota-setting authority by improving transparency and enabling DEA to adjust quotas to prevent opioid diversion and abuse.


DEA is responsible for establishing annual quotas determining the exact amount of each opioid drug that is permitted to be produced in the U.S. each year.  DEA approved significant increases in aggregate opioid production quotas between 1993 and 2015, including a 39-fold increase for oxycodone and a 12-fold increase for hydrocodone.  Such increases occurred largely because current law directs DEA to only consider certain factors when setting quotas—like past sales and estimated demand—but not other factors such as the impact of such opioid production on diversion, abuse rates, or overdose deaths.  As a result, 14 billion opioid doses are put on the market each year—far more than necessary under current medical guidelines and enough for every adult American to have nearly a one month’s prescription of addictive painkillers.  The Opioid Quota Reform Act would empower DEA to be more proactive in combatting the opioid crisis.


Medicaid CARE Act

Last year, Durbin introduced the bipartisan Medicaid Coverage for Addiction Recovery Expansion (Medicaid CARE) Act, which would expand access to substance abuse treatment for tens of thousands of Medicaid beneficiaries across the country. The legislation would increase addiction treatment services to help combat the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic by modifying the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) Exclusion – an arcane policy created in 1965 that limits Medicaid coverage for substance abuse treatment to facilities with less than 16 beds.  The Medicaid CARE Act would lift this outdated barrier by expanding Medicaid coverage to pay for up to 40 treatment beds within larger substance abuse treatment facilities.  The President’s Opioid Commission, governors across the country, and dozens of leading behavioral health stakeholder organizations have voiced support for the policy changes included in this legislation. 


Every day, more than 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose. In Illinois, there were 2,411 drug overdose deaths in 2016—a 53% spike in three years. According to the Winnebago County Coroner’s Office, 124 people died of drug overdoses in 2017 – the vast majority of which were opioid –related. In 2016, there were 96 overdose deaths in the County.