For the last three years, U.S. Senator Rob Portman has poured much of his energy into his CARA bill. CARA stands for the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act. Now, that bill is law, and the funding has been made available for it as well.
On Aug. 31, 2016, Portman urged House and Senate appropriators to fully fund CARA. Now President Obama has signed into law $37 million in new opioid funding as part of the short-term Continuing Resolution (CR). The money is designed to help get grant programs included in CARA, up and running.
For this fiscal year the House and Senate passed (and Obama signed into law) an increase in total federal spending on opioids of 47 percent over last year ($220 million vs. $321 million). For next fiscal year, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $471.5 million for federal opioid programs, which – if enacted – would be a 113 percent increase over the level two years ago ($471.5 million vs. $220 million).
“This is an important day because it means the Obama administration now must begin to get these CARA grant programs up and running and I’m going to continue to push them to do so as quickly as possible,” Portman said. “This short-term funding is an important step in that process, and I remain committed to fully funding CARA and securing additional opioid funding in the months ahead. This heroin and prescription drug epidemic is having a devastating effect on our families and communities across Ohio, and I’m pleased that Congress is taking this important step forward.”
In summary, for this fiscal year the House and Senate passed (and Obama signed into law) an increase in Labor-Health and Human Services – spending on opioids of 231 percent over last year ($41 million vs. $136 million). For next fiscal year, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $262 million for federal opioid programs, which – if enacted – would be a 539 percent increase over the level two years ago ($41 million vs. $262 million).
Obama commented on the legislation.
“This legislation includes some modest steps to address the opioid epidemic,” Obama said in a statement. “Given the scope of this crisis, some action is better than none. However, I am deeply disappointed that Republicans failed to provide any real resources for those seeking addiction treatment to get the care that they need.”
Many of the recent overdoses and deaths in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia have been attributed to synthetic opioids like fentanyl or its analogues, which include carfentanil, being mixed into heroin. Earlier, the Administration announced enhanced measures in conjunction with the Chinese government to combat the supply of fentanyl and its analogues to the United States. The majority of fentanyl and its analogues brought to the United States by drug traffickers originates in China. Obama said China committed to targeting U.S.-bound exports of substances controlled in the United States, but not in China. Additionally, the U.S. and China agreed to increase the exchange of law enforcement and scientific information with a view towards coordinated actions to control substances and chemicals of concern. The Administration will continue to work with China bilaterally and multilaterally to tighten international scheduling and improve capacity to monitor and analyze illicit synthetic drugs.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.