U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS), recently voted in favor of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018.
The bipartisan legislation will help states and communities address the opioid crisis by expanding access to treatment services, supporting programs aimed at preventing addiction, and promoting the development of new non-addictive treatments for pain. The measure passed the Senate by a vote of 99-1.
“With more than 950 overdose deaths in Missouri last year, I’m committed to making sure our state and communities have the resources they need to get the opioid epidemic under control,” said Blunt. “This bill is focused on stemming the flow of illegal drugs at the border, establishing grants that will give states more flexibility to address the unique challenges they face, and promoting innovation to find long-term solutions to this problem, such as developing non-addictive painkillers. The measure complements efforts I’ve led in the Labor/HHS subcommittee to ensure we have the right resources in the right places to fight the opioid epidemic. I’ll continue working to ensure there is a federal response that is equal to the challenge we’re facing.”
As Labor/HHS chair, Blunt has led efforts to increase opioid-related funding and repeatedly called for increased resources to combat the epidemic. Last week, Blunt announced that the conference agreement for the Labor/HHS appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019 includes $3.8 billion in funding for programs targeting the opioid epidemic. With this year’s funding bill, under Blunt’s chairmanship, funding for opioid-related Labor/HHS programs has increased by more than $3.5 billion over four years.
Following are key provisions in the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018:
• The legislation includes the STOP Act to help prevent illegal drugs from coming in at the border and provide flexible grants for states to clarify FDA authority to require set packaging for prescription opioids, such as a 3 or 7 day supply in a blister pack, and fight opioid diversion;
• Supports states in addressing substance use disorders, establishing opioid recovery centers, and expanding access to treatment and recovery services, including telehealth services;
• Addresses the impact of the epidemic on families and the community, including some of the most vulnerable – children in or at risk of entering the foster care system; and
• Supports research related to opioid addiction, development of opioid alternatives, pain management, and addiction treatment.