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Blunt Announces $3.8 Billion for Health-Related Programs Targeting the Opioid Epidemic

September 13, 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 conference agreement for the Labor/HHS appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019 includes $3.8 billion in 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.

“More people in Missouri now die from opioids than they do from breast cancer or car accidents,” said Blunt. “This epidemic is taking a toll on individuals, families, communities, and our local economies. In Missouri, the annual burden from the opioid crisis exceeds $12.6 billion – more than the economic activity generated by the agriculture, mining, and utilities sectors combined. We need a federal response that’s equal to the challenge we’re facing, and this bill delivers that.”

With this year’s funding bill, under Blunt’s chairmanship, funding for opioid-related Labor/HHS programs has increased by more than $3.5 billion over four years.

Blunt continued, “This bill provides flexible funding for states to implement the programs that work best for them. The bill directs resources to the hardest-hit states and rural communities, which are affected at a higher rate than urban or suburban areas. It addresses the needs of the most vulnerable of those affected by opioid use disorder – infants, children, and youth. And, it directs resources toward research into opioid alternatives to give patients with acute or chronic pain access to non-addictive pain medications. From researching opioid alternatives to expanding access to treatment and prevention programs, this bill reinforces our commitment to ending this epidemic and saving lives.”

The $3.8 Billion for Opioid-Related Labor/HHS Programs Includes:

  • $1.5 billion for State Opioid Response Grants. This funding replaces $500 million in expiring funding from the 21st Century Cures Act and provides flexible funding to states to implement opioid use disorder interventions in the best way that fits state needs. Blunt secured a funding increase for state opioid response grants in the omnibus appropriations bill, which was signed into law in March. Thanks to that effort, Missouri is now eligible to receive $28 million in funding this year.

  • $200 million, an increase of $65 million, for Community Health Centers to support and enhance behavioral health, mental health, or substance use disorder services.

  • $130 million, an increase of $15 million, focused on responding to the opioid epidemic in rural communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug-related deaths are 45 percent higher in rural communities, and rural states are more likely to have higher rates of overdose deaths.

  • $476 million at the CDC for opioid overdose prevention and surveillance, as well as a public awareness campaign. The bill includes $5 million for a new initiative to combat infectious diseases directly related to opioid use and an additional $2 million to improve data on neonatal abstinence syndrome.

  • $500 million for research related to opioid addiction, development of opioid alternatives, pain management, and addiction treatment. This is in addition to the $774 million available in base funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) available due to the significant investment in NIH funding the past four years.

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

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