The Senate was expected last week to vote on a 2019 budget bill that includes $3.7 billion in additional funding for substance abuse treatment and prevention efforts, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced last Tuesday.
As the number of opiate overdose deaths continues to rise, Congress is seeking to spend more money in an effort to combat the epidemic by providing more funding for treatment and prevention at the state and local levels.
Gillibrand, D-N.Y., announced in a teleconference that the Senate could vote on the 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill within days.
“The opioid epidemic is one of the biggest challenges facing our state,” Gillibrand said. “You can go to any town in the state and be hard pressed not to find someone who has been touched by this crisis.”
Companion legislation from the House of Representatives includes $3.85 billion in funding to combat the opioid epidemic.
“Working with local authorities, treatment specialists and law enforcement officials that are on the front lines of fighting this epidemic, their message to me is that they need support and funds to operate the programs that are making a difference,” said U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19.
“I have worked with my colleagues in the House to further increase funding in our appropriations bill to uphold the commitment to combating the opioid abuse crisis. Overdose deaths now account for more annual deaths than car accidents, and those who are suffering from addiction need our full support and commitment to action,” Faso said.
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta released a report Aug. 16 showing that drug overdoses killed more than 72,300 people nationwide last year, a roughly 10 percent increase over the previous year, and of those, an estimated 50,000 people, including 3,466 New Yorkers, died from opioid overdoses.
The Senate appropriations bill would provide $3.7 billion, reflecting an increase of $145 million, to support treatment and prevention programs:
n $120 million focused on responding to the opioid epidemic in rural communities. The bill also includes $5 million to support workforce training activities for individuals affected by an opioid use disorder.
n $500 million for research on opioid addiction, development of opioids alternatives, pain management, and addiction treatment.
n $200 million for Community Health Centers to support and enhance behavioral health, mental health, or substance use disorder services.
n Maintains $476 million for CDC opioid overdose prevention and surveillance as well as its public awareness campaign. The bill also includes $5 million for a new initiative for CDC to combat infectious diseases directly related to opioid use.
n $1.9 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.
n $1.5 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s State Opioid Response Grant.
Last year New York was allocated about $25 million in federal funding to combat the opioid epidemic.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if New York gets the same amount or more next year,” Gillibrand said. “We are hoping to make this funding available this year.”
If the bill passes in the Senate, it will go to the House for consideration.