Senators introduce legislation to bolster fight against addiction epidemic

Senators introduce legislation to bolster fight against addiction epidemic

U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced legislation aimed at bolstering existing legislation that fights against the opioid addiction epidemic on Thursday.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 would increase funding authorization levels for the original CARA programs enacted in 2016 and put in place policy reforms that would strengthen efforts to fight the opioid epidemic amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the 2020 fiscal year, CARA was funded at $658 million to ensure federal resources were devoted to evidence-based and effective education, treatment, and recovery programs. CARA 2.0 increased that funding to $765 million and strengthened the federal government’s response to the growing crisis, the Senators said.

“In recent years, we have made real progress in fighting the scourge of addiction thanks to resources from the bipartisan CARA law, in addition to other bipartisan efforts in Congress. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges, and we are now seeing a heartbreaking surge in overdose deaths. That is why we must redouble our efforts to combat addiction and help those who are suffering during this crisis,” Portman said. “In the new Congress, we have a unique opportunity to work together in a bipartisan way, and I believe that CARA 2.0 can help us make a real difference in combating this epidemic.”

Some of the proposed policy changes include new research into non-opioid pain management alternatives and on long-term treatment outcomes to sustain recovery, a three-day limit on initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain, requiring that physicians and pharmacists use their state PDMP upon prescribing or dispensing opioids, and establishing a pilot program for mobile methadone clinics to serve rural areas, among other policy changes.

“Every day, families across Minnesota and the country lose loved ones to addiction,” Klobuchar said. “The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act 2.0 will give Americans access to vital treatment and recovery services. It will also ensure that commonsense prevention measures are implemented across the country, such as requiring the use of state prescription drug monitoring programs. We must continue to address this public health emergency and provide assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering.”