U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Press Release

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Statement on Senate Approval of Bipartisan Reforms to Combat Opioid and Heroin Epidemic

Calls on Senate GOP to end obstruction of desperately needed emergency funding

By - Mar 10th, 2016 11:24 am

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With drug overdose deaths on the rise in Wisconsin, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin released the following statement after the United States Senate passed the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016 (S.524), legislation aimed at promoting a community-based response to heroin and other opioid addictions. Senator Baldwin, a cosponsor of CARA, supported the legislation today, which passed 94-1.

During the debate, Senate Republicans rejected a bipartisan amendment to the bill that would have provided $600 million in emergency funding to address the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic that is devastating communities in Wisconsin and across the country. Senate Democrats were joined in support of this funding measure by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Rob Portman (R-OH).

“Today’s vote to advance this bipartisan legislation was a significant step toward tackling the heroin and opioid crisis we’re seeing in Wisconsin and across the country. However, as communities in Wisconsin continue to struggle with this epidemic on a daily basis, we need to act immediately to supply emergency funding for prevention, treatment and recovery efforts. These resources are vital to our first responders, healthcare providers and criminal justice system as they continue to respond to this national emergency, and it is my hope Senate Republicans will end their obstruction to this desperately needed investment,” said Senator Baldwin.

Last week, Senator Baldwin introduced an amendment to CARA that would have enacted President Obama’s budget request and provide for about $1.1 billion in new funding to address the prescription opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic. Consistent with the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget, this amendment included $1 billion in new mandatory funding to expand access to treatment and recovery services for opioid use disorders, support the placement of substance use disorder treatment providers in the communities most in need of behavioral health providers, and continue to build the evidence base for effective treatment programs. This funding would boost efforts to help individuals with an opioid use disorder to seek treatment, successfully complete treatment, and sustain recovery.

In February, Senator Baldwin, along with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, introduced new legislation that would address the opioid addiction crisis from prevention to recovery. The Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Reduction Act outlines a comprehensive approach and allocates necessary funds to combat the heroin and prescription drug epidemic in four key areas: prevention, crisis, treatment, and recovery. Importantly, this bill would improve access to lifesaving opioid reversal drugs, like naloxone, enhance treatment and recovery services for our hardest hit communities, expand access to medication-assisted treatments, like buprenorphine, as well as provide greater substance abuse treatment and counseling options for youth and pregnant women.

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