Posted on September 12, 2018
*Click here for VIDEO of the senator’s remarks.*
“The appropriations bill Congress passed in March of this year included $4.7 billion to fight the opioid crisis, of which $1 billion was for grants to states. The fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill, which the Senate passed just last month, includes $3.7 billion to help combat the opioid crisis. That would mean Congress has approved roughly $8.4 billion within a few months.” — Senator Lamar Alexander
WASHINGTON, September 12, 2018 — United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said that the Senate is set to vote soon on what Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) calls “landmark” legislation—the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018—which will help states and communities fight the opioids crisis. The bipartisan bill includes proposals from five Senate committees and over 70 senators.
“The appropriations bill Congress passed in March of this year included $4.7 billion to fight the opioid crisis, of which $1 billion was for grants to states. The fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill, which the Senate passed just last month, includes $3.7 billion to help combat the opioid crisis. That would mean Congress has approved roughly $8.4 billion within a few months,” Alexander said. “According to Senator Roy Blunt, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that approves this bill each year, federal funding to help combat the opioid epidemic has increased nearly 1,300 percent over the past 4 years.”
“This is a package of more than 70 proposals from nearly three-quarters of the Senate – 72 members – that includes the work of five Senate committees – the health committee that I chair, and the finance, judiciary, commerce, and banking committees. Since last October, the Senate health committee has held seven hearings on the opioid crisis. We heard from governors, doctors, addiction experts, family members, and others, on how the federal government can be the best possible partner as we work to combat the opioid crisis,” Alexander continued.
Alexander concluded his remarks: “My hope is that the five Senate committees will work quickly with our House colleagues to reach an agreement by September 21, so the House can pass a final opioids package, the Senate can pass it, and we can send it to the president’s desk as quickly as possible.”
Here are 10 key provisions in the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018:
1. The STOP Act—Stop illegal drugs, including fentanyl, from coming across the border through the mail
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 addicted to opioids
10. More early intervention with vulnerable children who have experienced trauma
Watch Senator Alexander’s floor speech here, and read Alexander’s prepared remarks here.