Alexander: Senate Approves $3.8 Billion to Fight the Opioid Crisis, Bringing the Total This Year to $8.5 Billion 

Posted on September 18, 2018

WASHINGTON, September 18, 2018 — U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said “the Senate has now approved $8.5 billion this year towards fighting the opioid crisis,” after the Senate passed the 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations bill which provides $3.8 billion to fight the crisis.

The FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill Congress passed in March of this year included $4.7 billion to fight the opioid crisis. According to Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), federal funding to help combat the opioid crisis has increased by nearly 1,300 percent over the past 4 years.

“The challenge of solving the opioid crisis has often been described as needing a moonshot,” Alexander continued. “Solving the opioid crisis might require the energy and resources of a moonshot, which Congress has taken important steps to deliver, but ultimately it is not something that can be solved by a single agency in Washington, D.C.”

“What the federal government can do is create an environment so that everyone—governors, judges, counselors, law enforcement, doctors, nurses and families—can succeed in fighting the crisis. That’s why it’s so important that the Senate also passed the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 this week—which Majority Leader McConnell calls ‘landmark’ legislation—that includes proposals from five Senate committees and over 70 senators, to help create an environment in which states and communities can use this funding to better address the opioid crisis.”

The FY2019 Labor, Health & Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill also includes the fourth straight year of record funding in a regular appropriations bill for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health.

Sen. Alexander added: “For the fourth straight year, the Senate has provided record funding for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health—$2 billion additional dollars in the first year, $2 billion the second year, $3 billion the third year, and $2 billion this year, which is a 30 percent increase over the last four years. As a result of investing in our biomedical research, we will have access to more life-changing treatments and cures, and see more medical miracles. I continue to urge President Trump to make science and research part of his ‘America First’ agenda. The president has already signed into law two consecutive bills that provide record funding for science, technology, energy and biomedical research, and this legislation will build on that.”

The Fiscal Year 2019 Labor, Health & Human Services, Education Appropriations bill includes:

  • $3.8 billion for programs to combat opioid abuse, including $1.5 billion for the State Opioid Response grant
  • $39.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health, including $711 million authorized by the 21st Century Cures Act
  • $15.9 billion for Title I Grants to local education agencies
  • $1.2 billion for Title IV-A Student Supports and Academic Enrichment Grants
  • $440 million for Charter Schools
  • $30 million rural workforce training initiative for the Appalachian and Delta regions
  • $160 million for apprenticeship grants
  • The bill is consistent with the spending limits set by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 approved by Congress, and signed by President Trump in February.

And here are 10 key provisions in the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018:

1.       The STOP ACT—to stop illegal drugs, including fentanyl, at the border

2.       New non-addictive painkillers, research and fast-track

3.       Blister packs for opioids, such as a 3 or 7-day supply

4.       More medication–assisted treatment

5.       Prevent “doctor-shopping” by improving state prescription drug monitoring programs 

6.       More behavioral and mental health providers

7.       Support for comprehensive opioid recovery centers

8.       Help for babies born in opioid withdrawal

9.       Help for mothers with opioid use disorders

10.   More early intervention with vulnerable children who have experienced trauma