Posted on October 26, 2017
WASHINGTON, OCTOBER 26, 2017—Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released the following statement on President Trump’s remarks today on combatting the opioid crisis:
“President Trump’s announcement today provides important leadership in helping states tackle the opioid crisis head on. Last year, 1,631 Tennesseans died of a drug overdose—12 percent more than the year before—and the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in recorded history in Tennessee. Nearly 3 out of 4 of the drug overdoses in our state are related to the opioid crisis. This is a crisis not just in Tennessee, but across the country, with 91 Americans dying every day from an opioid overdose. Congress took important steps last year by passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act—which established new programs and encouraged those on the front lines to work together to combat substance abuse, especially opioid abuse—and providing $1 billion in new funding for states to fight the opioid crisis as a part of the 21st Century Cures Act. I look forward to working closely with the Trump administration to see what additional steps Congress should take to help states, doctors, and families address and solve this tragic problem.”
Earlier this month, Alexander began a series of Senate health committee hearings on the response to the opioid crisis, saying the crisis is “tearing our communities apart, tearing families apart, and posing an enormous challenge to health care providers and law enforcement officials.”
Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) in July 2016. Alexander was one of seven Senate conferees who worked with the House conferees on the final CARA conference report. Earlier this year, the Trump administration announced $144 million in grants under CARA will be awarded to states, cities, health care providers, and community organizations, with $6 million going to Tennessee.
In addition to providing $1 billion in grants to states to address the opioid crisis, the 21st Century Cures Act updated substance abuse programs out of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Alexander was the lead Republican Senate sponsor of Cures, which was signed into law December 2016. This past spring, the administration began issuing grants funded by Cures, including nearly $14 million for Tennessee.