Congress is wrapping up a host of bills that will make up a new legislation package aimed at the opioid epidemic, but one senator is touting a separate, far more sweeping proposal ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
On Friday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) previewed a bill that would create a massive program for substance abuse prevention and treatment. The program would be modeled on the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program for prevention and treatment, which costs just over $2.3 billion a year, according to the Health Resources and Services website.
Warren introduced the legislation at a news conference in Boston during a visit to the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is also signing on to the bill.
This idea for an opioid epidemic treatment model has floated around Washington over the past year. While this preview by Warren and Cummings is the first large-scale introduction of the concept, one of the House bills under consideration for this year's congressional effort would establish a grant program to establish "comprehensive opioid recovery centers."
Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report showing that emergency department admissions for suspected opioid overdoses have jumped 30% from 2016 to 2017 in 52 jurisdictions across 45 states.
The bipartisan House measure by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) would award three- to five-year grants, renewable on a competitive basis, to establish at least 10 recovery centers across the U.S.
In last month's two-year, $1.3 trillion spending deal, Congress appropriated $4.65 billion to combat the opioid crisis. The HHS health-related portion was $2.5 billion over two years, which includes a $1 billion boost in grants for states.
In 2016, Congress also established $1 billion in state grants, overseen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. These are due to run out next spring.
Want to continue the conversation about opioids? Join Modern Healthcare on April 25-26 at its Opioid Crisis Symposium.