Manchin Joins Group of Senators to Introduce Legislation to Expand Opioid Fight

West Virginia News

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined 15 Senators to introduce the Opioid Response Enhancement Act to help states better fight the opioid epidemic that is ravaging communities and families across this country.  This bill would expand a grant program that was created as part of the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act of 2017 and ensure states have access to continued and additional funding for the next five years under this program.

“The opioid epidemic took the lives of more than 700 West Virginians in 2016, and it is only  getting worse.  Our local prevention programs, treatment centers and first responders rely on federal grants for the resources that they need to fight this fight every day,” said Senator Manchin.  “The State Targeted Response Grant has already made a difference for people on the front lines and the new Enhancement Grant, which would be created by this bill, would ensure that the hardest hit states with the highest opioid mortality rates like West Virginia get the critical resources that they need.   If Congress is serious about addressing this epidemic and saving lives, we must pass this bill to provide the funding that states like West Virginia need.”

In 2017, Congress provided $1 billion over two years of additional funding for state efforts to combat the opioid epidemic under the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act.  As the opioid epidemic continues to strain local resources, Congress needs to continue to fund this important program to help our communities combat this crisis beyond 2019, so that states, localities and tribal communities have adequate resources to help prevent and treat substance use disorder and addiction.

The Opioid Response Enhancement Act would provide an additional investment of $12 billion over five years for the State Targeted Opioid Response (STR) Grant, including a new Enhancement Grant for states that have been especially hard hit by the epidemic, including those states with high opioid mortality rates.   It would also prove an additional $1.5 billion for the remainder of Fiscal year 2018 under new resources made available in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

This legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Angus King (I-ME), Ben Cardin (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Tom Udall (D-NM).

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Provide $10 billion over five years for the current STR Grant program under 21st Century Cures Act beginning in FY19.
  • Add a new STR Enhancement Grant for $2 billion over five years for at least ten states and tribal entities with high needs, including high opioid mortality rates, to enhance and expand opioid abuse efforts under the STR program.
  • Include Tribal entities as eligible for the STR Grants, funded by a 10 percent set aside.
  • Require the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide technical assistance to states and tribes through the Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center, for application procedures, outreach and support to underserved communities, and data collection.
  • Provide flexibility to allow states and tribes to use some of the funding to help address other substance use issues that are similar or substantial public health threats, in addition to carrying out opioid abuse efforts.
  • Direct states to prioritize providing funding directly to local community organizations and counties to ensure that local leaders have access to critical resources to help them address areas of unmet need.

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