Congress working to combat opioid crisis
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 was passed through the Senate on Wednesday July 13, 2016 with a 92-to-2 vote and now awaits President Obama’s signature to become enacted (Huetteman 2016). Introduced in the Senate in February of 2015, the bill is a piece of landmark legislation in America’s battle against the growing opioid addiction epidemic (S. 524, 2015). Since 2000, there has been a 200% increase in drug overdose deaths attributed to opioid abuse, which accounts for 61% of all drug-related deaths (Rudd, Aleshire, Zibbell, & Gladden, 2016). The opioid crisis reached an all-time high in 2014 when the number of deaths per year doubled, sparking discussion about a new Congressional bill (Rudd 2016). While there have been numerous state legislations address the rise in opioid abuse, this is the first federal bill to emerge in the recent years.
While there is an overwhelming amount of backing by both parties for this initiative, there is potential for delay or failure of the bill due to lack of funding. In March 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a statement expressing concern for the appropriations included in the bill (Donovan). These concerns were similar to those posed by the two senators who voted against the bill.Republican Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Ben Sasse of Utah both stated that they didn’t have faith that the bill would be able to bring out about any real change in the opioid addiction crisis (Chen 2016). The bill passed in the Senate has an outstanding lack of appropriations for the programs it entails. This puts pressure on states and private institutions to fund the project themselves, although the OMB will be dedicating some funds towards the programs in next year’s budget. (Chen 2016)
However, since the OMB’s policy statement in March, there has been significant improvement in securing funds for the proposed legislation, spearheaded by Senator Portman of Ohio (US Senate, 2016). The immense bipartisan support for this groundbreaking legislation provides hope for the bill’s success in the coming years. At the very least, it is a step in the right direction towards addressing addiction as a disease, rather than just an act of criminality.
Chen, D. (2016, July 15). Utah's Mike Lee 1 of only 2 senators to vote against opioids bill | KSL.com. Retrieved from https://www.ksl.com/index.php?sid=40658138&nid=148&title=utahs-mike-lee-1-of-only-2-senators-to-vote-against-opioids-bill
Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, S. 524, 114 Cong. (2015).
Donovan, S. (2016, March 1). Statement of Administration Policy: S.524 Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (United States, Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget). Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/114/legislative_sap_number_2016
Huetteman, E. (2016, July 13). Senate Approves Bill to Combat Opioid Addiction Crisis. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/14/us/politics/senate-opioid-addiction-bill.html?_r=0
Rudd, R. A., MSPH, Aleshire, N., JD, Zibbell, J. E., PhD, & Gladden, R., PhD. (2016, January 1). Centers for disease control and prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6450a3.htm
US Senate. (2016, June 7). Portman Helps Nearly Double Opioid Abuse Funding in Labor-HHS-Education Bill [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2016/6/portman-helps-nearly-double-opioid-abuse-funding-in-labor-hhs-education-bill