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Luján Pushes Funding For Opioid Treatment

on December 4, 2017 - 8:09am
U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján
 
CONGRESSIONAL News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C.  U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) Nov. 30 sent a letter to the leaders of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Committee urging continued investment to combat the opioid epidemic.
 
Earlier this year, Lujan introduced legislation that would provide $2.5 billion in additional funding for five years at the rate of $500 million a year.
 
More than 64,000 people in the U.S. died of drug overdoses in 2016, the deadliest year on record. That number represents a nationwide increase of more than 20 percent over the previous year. Heroin deaths rose 23 percent, to 12,989, higher than the number of gun homicides. Deaths from synthetic opioids rose 73 percent, and prescription painkillers had the highest toll - abuse of drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin killed 17,536 in 2016.
 
Luján wrote: “Congress took important first steps by passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Control Act (CARA), and providing $1 billion dollars over two years in 21st Century Cures (Cures) to bolster state efforts to respond to the opioid crisis. But two years won’t be enough time to turn the tide against this epidemic in our communities. This money was just an important down payment to fight this epidemic. We can and should do more by extending the 21st Century Cures funding.”
 
Earlier this year, Luján introduced H.R. 3692, the Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act, a bill that would significantly expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder, and the Opioid and Heroin Abuse Crisis Investment Act, to extend funding to combat the growing public health crisis of opioid-related addiction and deaths. Last Congress, he also introduced legislation which called for additional resources for treatment and prevention programs to address the opioid abuse problem and was instrumental in securing the first installment of federal funding for 2017.
 
The letter goes on to say: “In order to combat this epidemic, we need to make a focused effort to implement tangible measures that monitor and offer sustained treatment. The drug crisis is tearing apart the fabric of towns and neighborhoods across the country. We must not let the Cures funding expire. Too many people are suffering without access to meaningful support systems. Cures represented a much-needed step forward and we must act now to continue to critical initiative.”
 
(Text of letter follows)
 
Chairman Walden
Ranking Member Frank Pallone
Chairman Burgess
Ranking Member Green
Dear Chairman Walden, Ranking Member Pallone, Chairman Green, and Ranking Member Burgess:
 
With the deadliest drug crisis in American history raging across this country, resulting in the death of more than 142 Americans each day, I write to you today to support continued investments to combat the opioid epidemic.
 
Congress took important first steps by passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Control Act (CARA), and providing $1 billion dollars over two years in 21st Century Cures (Cures) to bolster state efforts to respond to the opioid crisis. But two years won’t be enough time to turn the tide against this epidemic in our communities. This money was just an important down payment to fight this epidemic. We can and should do more by extending the 21st Century Cures funding. 
 
In declaring the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, President Trump described how in 2016, more than two million Americans had an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids, and how, since 2000, over 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses involving opioids. The opioid abuse crisis is impacting millions of American families, thousands of communities, and all 50 states. We must provide robust funding for efforts to combat the opioid abuse crisis. People throughout the U.S. are hurting, and we have a chance to make a real difference in people’s lives. Multiple generations of Americans have been affected because Congress has historically failed to make the necessary investments in these efforts. We have the opportunity to help improve the public health and well-being of our communities by working in a bipartisan fashion to provide increased funding for these programs.
 
Just this week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the chair the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, stated that he believed we needed more than the $1 billion we passed last Congress. "There is no avoiding having to increase funding for this problem, the question is how, and you guys get to make that call," Christie said.
 
I strongly agree with Governor Christie. It is our job, as Members of Congress, to provide the necessary funding to save lives. That is why I have introduced the Opioid and Heroin Abuse Crisis Investment Act to extend the block grant funding passed in Cures for an additional five years. These grants would continue to support States in their efforts to enhance access to treatment, bolster substance abuse prevention programs, and expand evidence-based initiatives that will help address this deadly epidemic.
 
In order to combat this epidemic, we need to make a focused effort to implement tangible measures that monitor and offer sustained treatment. The drug crisis is tearing apart the fabric of towns and neighborhoods across the country. We must not let the Cures funding expire. Too many people are suffering without access to meaningful support systems. Cures represented a much-needed step forward and we must act now to continue to critical initiative.
Sincerely,
 
Ben Ray Luján
Member of Congress

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