This week, the U.S. Senate agreed to send another $3.8 billion to help deal with the opioid crisis and backed the “Opioid Crisis Response Act” which was introduced by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
As part of the 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations bill, the Senate backed the funds. With those additional funds, the Senate has approved $8.5 billion so far this year to tackle the opioid crisis.
“The challenge of solving the opioid crisis has often been described as needing a moonshot,” Alexander said on Tuesday. “Solving the opioid crisis might require the energy and resources of a moonshot, which Congress has taken important steps to deliver, but ultimately it is not something that can be solved by a single agency in Washington, D.C.
“What the federal government can do is create an environment so that everyone—governors, judges, counselors, law enforcement, doctors, nurses and families—can succeed in fighting the crisis. That’s why it’s so important that the Senate also passed the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 this week—which Majority Leader McConnell calls ‘landmark’ legislation—that includes proposals from five Senate committees and over 70 senators, to help create an environment in which states and communities can use this funding to better address the opioid crisis,” Alexander added.
Alexander also pointed to the Senate continuing to send funds to the National Institutes of Health.
“For the fourth straight year, the Senate has provided record funding for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health—$2 billion additional dollars in the first year, $2 billion the second year, $3 billion the third year, and $2 billion this year, which is a 30 percent increase over the last four years. As a result of investing in our biomedical research, we will have access to more life-changing treatments and cures, and see more medical miracles. I continue to urge President Trump to make science and research part of his ‘America First’ agenda. The president has already signed into law two consecutive bills that provide record funding for science, technology, energy and biomedical research, and this legislation will build on that,” Alexander said.
Rubio helped shape the final bill and weighed in on the matter on Tuesday.
“As the opioid crisis continues to wreak havoc across our state and nation, I’m committed to ensuring that those dealing with opioid addiction in Florida and throughout the country receive the support and care they need,” Rubio said. “I’m pleased that this bill includes critical provisions to ensure that we have the tools necessary to care for newborn babies suffering from opioid withdrawal, to prevent unused drugs from ending up in the wrong hands, and to target disreputable sober homes and ensure wrongdoers are punished.”
Rubio helped include provisions to help newborns suffering from opioid withdrawal by increasing funds for states to help children born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), the “Hospice Safe Drug Disposal Act” which gives hospice providers more options to dispose of unused opioids and technology to detect fentanyl and other opioids in the mail and at the border.