U.S. Sens Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) urged Congressional leadership to increase funding state, local and tribal governments and treatment providers for the continued response to opioid and substance use disorder epidemic.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the two Senators joined 17 of their colleagues in asking for an additional $2 billion in funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) for supplemental grants under the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant and state opioid response grant programs in the next round of stimulus funding.
The Senators also asked for funding to collect data on substance use disorder, overdoses, and deaths to monitor the substance use disorder epidemic during the COVID-19 pandemic. The data would be used to direct funding appropriately.
“The current pandemic has dramatically altered the substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery landscape in this country, and the needs of patients and communities are clear. The nature of the COVID-19 public health emergency has increased social isolation and stress while decreasing access to treatment and harm reduction resources, with significant repercussions for the substance use disorder and opioid use disorder crises. Already, early signs from around the country indicate a higher volume of emergency calls linked to illicit drug use, as well as reported overdoses and deaths,” the senators wrote in their letter.
Directing the funds to SAMSHA would be the quickest and most efficient way to get money to state and local governments and treatment providers, the senators said.
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion “HEROES Act” to augment the CARES Act passed in late March.