Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515
Wyden Report: Opioid Funds Lacking, Nationwide Epidemic Will Continue to Rage
Legislation to Fund Opioid Programs Around the Country is an Empty Promise Without Sending Real Dollars to States
WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today released a report outlining the consequences of underfunding treatment for opioid addiction, now an epidemic across the United States. Earlier this year, Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA), but provided no funds to the policies it authorized. Additionally, Congress has not acted on the White House-requested $920 million that would expand access to treatment in states as part of a larger effort to combat the opioid epidemic.
“Congress’ approach to funding opioid addiction treatment is nothing short of legislative malpractice” Wyden said, “There is bipartisan agreement that the opioid epidemic has to be confronted now. Yet, with dozens of Americans dying from an opioid overdose every day, Congress is breaking its promise to families around the country by not providing every resource available. The time for a ‘down payment’ has long passed.”
As Congress debated opioid legislation over the summer, Democrats offered a number of amendments to immediately provide funding for opioid prevention and treatment programs. In the conference committee Wyden, along with Senators Murray and Leahy, offered an amendment to fully fund the president’s $920 billion budget request using bipartisan offsets. That amendment failed when every Republican in conference voted against it. Senator Jeanne Shaheen offered a similar amendment to provide critical opioid funding while CARA was considered on the Senate floor, and that was also blocked along largely partisan lines.
Wyden’s report comes as Congress has taken a second extended recess while only providing an additional $7 million of the requested $920 million. Meanwhile, an average of 78 Americans per day die from an opioid overdose. The report covers two key challenges: the lack of available treatment facilities and services across the country, and the barriers people face even when treatment facilities or services are available.
A study published by the Journal of American Medicine earlier this year showed that nearly 80 percent of Americans suffering from opioid addiction are unable to access the treatment they need, especially in rural areas across the country. Unfortunately, these underserved areas often need access to treatment the most.
If more funding were provided, it would help states battle the opioid epidemic by allowing them to establish additional treatment centers, to provide life-saving anti-overdose medication, and to train medical personnel to increase the number of those being treated.
The remainder of the report details five case studies of states struggling with high rates of opioid addiction, including Wyden’s home state of Oregon, in addition to California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.
Full text of the report can be found here.
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