The Senate on Monday overwhelmingly approved a measure aimed at dealing with the U.S. opioid epidemic.
The sweeping bipartisan package, which passed 99-1, was introduced by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. It would fight the epidemic on multiple fronts, including new steps to stop prescription painkillers from flowing into the U.S. illegally and providing Americans addicted to the drugs with better access to treatment and prevention programs.
The Senate bill, known as the Substance Abuse Prevention Act, will still need to be reconciled with a similar measure the House passed in June, USA Today reported. Given broad support in Congress and the White House, lawmakers said they are optimistic the measure could be signed into law before the end of the year.
Cornyn issued the following statement Monday evening:
“Our nation continues to suffer from a drug crisis, and this critical legislation will combat the supply of opioids and help individuals and families suffering from substance abuse,” said Sen. Cornyn. “By including the Substance Abuse Prevention Act in this bill, we will be able to strengthen the ability of law enforcement and healthcare agencies to reduce addiction and support those in recovery.”
Here's background from Cornyn's release:
The Substance Abuse Prevention Act was originally introduced by Senators Cornyn and Feinstein to reauthorize drug abuse programs, and to provide assistance to various agencies so they can better combat opioid addiction and support those recovering from substance abuse.
• Office of National Drug Control Policy: Reauthorizes the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) at the White House, which oversees Executive Branch efforts on narcotics control and ensures efforts complement and strengthen state and local anti-drug activates.
• Drug Abuse Prevention Programs: Reauthorizes several important programs under the ONDCP including the Drug-Free Communities Program and the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program and allows the ONDCP Director to participate in and expand opioid and heroin awareness campaigns which were authorized under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).
• Drug Courts: Reauthorizes Department of Justice funding for drug courts, which provide targeted interventions for individuals with drug addiction and substance abuse disorders and allows non-profit organizations to provide important training and technical assistance to drug courts.
• Supporting Families with Substance Abuse Challenges: Provides resources to the Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) for screening, treatment, supportive housing, and interventions in order to help support families as they battle substance abuse challenges.
• Better Substance Abuse Treatment: Directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study on reimbursements for substance use disorder services and make recommendations in order to bring parity to and improve reimbursements.
• Educating Prescribers: Requires Attorney General and HHS Secretary to complete a plan for educating and training medical practitioners in best practices for prescribing controlled substances.
• Supporting Education and Awareness: Allows the Attorney General to make grants available to entities that focus on substance use disorders and specialize in family and patient services.
• Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams: Authorizes the Director of ONDCP in coordination with SAMHSA to provide grants to establish Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams (START) to determine the effectiveness of pairing social workers and mentors with families that are struggling with substance use disorder and child abuse or neglect.
The following groups supported the Substance Abuse Prevention Act: the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), the Addiction Policy Forum, the National Association for Children of Addiction (NACoA), the Moyer Foundation, the National Council for Behavioral Health, the National District Attorneys Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National HIDTA Directors Association, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, the National Criminal Justice Association, the National Association of Police Organizations, and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.