Tackling the opioid crisis

The opioid crisis has touched every corner of America. We’ve lost far too many — children, parents, friends and loved ones — to this horrible epidemic. While states and communities on the front lines struggle to respond to the opioid crisis, Washington has only nibbled around the edges. It is past time for Congress to take real action. That’s why I’m introducing the CARE Act with Representative Elijah E. Cummings. Our bill will provide $100 billion in federal funding over the next decade to tackle the opioid epidemic head-on.

The Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency Act is modeled directly on the bipartisan Ryan White CARE Act that Congress passed thirty years ago to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It combines federal funding with local decision-making to address opioid addiction and substance use. It acknowledges that the epidemic we are confronting is a disease, which must be addressed by providing treatment to those who need it and investing in the science that will help us make progress in fighting back.

Defeating a public health epidemic like the opioid crisis won’t be easy. It takes major resources, local control, and the courage to combat stigmas. But we’ve done this before. The Ryan White CARE Act transformed our approach to HIV/AIDS treatment and provided significant new funding. That epidemic still isn’t over — but now life-saving medications are available, new infections have plummeted, and science — rather than stigma — guides medical care.

Our bill applies the same approach to ending the opioid epidemic — it will funnel millions of dollars directly to the communities hit hardest, and give them the tools they need to fight back.

We can’t stop the opioid crisis with empty words and half measures. Congress has come together before to stop an epidemic and save lives — it’s time for us to do so again.

You can read the full text of the bill, or view a summary of each section.

The CARE Act provides $100 billion in federal funding over ten years, including:

  • $4 billion per year to states, territories, and tribal governments, including $2 billion to states with the highest levels of overdoses, $1.6 billion through competitive grants, and $400 million for grants to tribal governments;
  • $2.7 billion per year to the hardest hit counties and cities, including $1.43 billion to counties and cities with the highest levels of overdoses, $1 billion through competitive grants, and $270 million for grants to tribal governments;
  • $1.8 billion per year for public health surveillance, biomedical research, and improved training for health professionals, including $1 billion for the National Institutes of Health, $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and regional tribal epidemiology centers, and $400 million to train and provide technical assistance to professionals treating substance use disorders;
  • $1 billion per year to support expanded and innovative service delivery, including $500 million for public and nonprofit entities and $500 million for projects of national significance that provide treatment, prevention, recovery, and harm reduction services; and
  • $500 million per year to expand access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone and provide this life-saving medicine to states to distribute to first responders, public health departments, and the public.
Read the CARE Act staff report with state-by-state fact sheets

You can view statements of support from experts and policymakers here.

The legislation has been endorsed by the following organizations: AIDS United; amfAR; Association for Behavioral Healthcare; Baltimore County Health Department; Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; Drug Policy Alliance; Harm Reduction Coalition; Massachusetts Medical Society; National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors; National Association of Counties; National Association of County and City Health Officials; National Council for Behavioral Health; National HIDTA Directors Association; National Indian Health Board; United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund; Seattle Indian Health Board; and Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.