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Blunt Announces $2.55 Billion Increase for Health-Related Programs Targeting the Opioid Epidemic

Blunt-Led Effort Marks 244 Percent Increase for Opioid-Related Programs This Year

March 21, 2018

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS), today announced that the government funding bill for this fiscal year includes an additional $2.55 billion in Labor/HHS funding for programs targeting the opioid epidemic. As chairman, Blunt has led efforts to increase opioid-related funding and repeatedly called for increased resources to combat the epidemic.

“The opioid epidemic is a devastating public health crisis that touches people of every age, from every background, in communities in Missouri and across the nation,” said Blunt. “The opioid epidemic is claiming 115 lives every day, forcing kids into foster care, straining law enforcement resources, and costing our economy more than $78 billion a year. That’s why we’ve made opioid treatment, prevention, and research a priority in the past two government funding bills, and are continuing that effort with $3.6 billion this year.”

Last month, Blunt announced that the Bipartisan Budget Act included $6 billion over two years in government-wide funding for opioid-related programs. The $2.55 billion increase announced today reflects the increase included in the Bipartisan Budget Act, along with Blunt’s efforts to prioritize funding through the Labor/HHS appropriations bill.

Blunt continued, “This bill provides the funding necessary to tackle this crisis from every angle. The measure includes resources to expand access to behavioral health care and addiction prevention programs, and develop alternative treatments for pain management. It directs resources to states that have been hit hardest by the opioid epidemic. And, it provides new funding to help ensure the health and safety of kids who have been affected by this crisis. It’s another major step in our effort to get this epidemic under control and save lives, and I look forward to getting it to the president’s desk.”

With this year’s funding bill taken into account, under Blunt’s chairmanship, funding for opioid-related Labor/HHS programs has increased by nearly $3.3 billion – a 1,228 percent increase – over three years.

At a Republican leadership press conference earlier this year, Blunt called for increased resources to address the opioid epidemic. In remarks on the Senate floor and in a USA Today op-ed with U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Blunt outlined the steps necessary to combat the opioid epidemic. In December 2017, Blunt held a hearing to examine prevention, treatment, and recovery activities related to the opioid crisis.

The $3.6 Billion for Opioid-Related Labor/HHS Programs Includes:

  • $415 million to expand behavioral health and substance use disorder prevention and treatment services and facilitate the development of an appropriately-trained workforce, especially in rural communities.

  • $350 million to strengthen surveillance activities across all 50 states, implement activities described in the National All Schedules Prescriptions Electronic Reporting Act, and increase public awareness through a nationwide awareness and education campaign.

  • $500 million for a new research initiative related to opioid addiction, development of opioid alternatives, pain management, and addiction treatment.

  • $1 billion for a new State Opioid Response Grant. This funding is in addition to the $500 million from 21st Century CURES, increasing flexible funding available to states by 200 percent. Last year, Blunt announced that Missouri was awarded a $10 million opioid crisis grant.

  • An increase of $185 million for opioid-related programs in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Programs of National and Regional Significance.

  • An  Increase of $60 million for child abuse prevention and treatment programs to support the development and implementation of plans of safe care for infants affected by substance abuse.

  • An increase of $40 million for mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment programs for children and youth in the foster care system or at-risk of entering the foster care system.

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