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Grading House Opioid Week: Incomplete

A strong package of bills won’t make up for funding failure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Daniel Raymond, Policy Director, Harm Reduction Coalition
212-377-9121 / raymond@harmreduction.org

Harm Reduction Coalition’s Policy Director, Daniel Raymond, released the following statement today:

“We’ve seen the House take up legislation this week addressing a broad spectrum of critical policy issues to end the overdose epidemic, and commend their bipartisan work on opioid prescribing, access to naloxone, medication-assisted treatment, and other key priorities. Leadership and members on both sides of the aisle have shown a strong understanding of the urgency of the heroin crisis and heeded the call from constituents, advocates and the American public for action.

“But legislation without funding is not a solution. The flurry of legislative activity cannot hide the glaring failure to take up the White House request for $1.1 billion in additional funding to shrink the treatment gap and prevent overdose deaths.

“Congress’ approach – modest, incremental funding increases through the Appropriations process in recent years – has demonstrably failed to keep pace with the scope and scale of the overdose epidemic. We have more overdose deaths than at any other time in history, and the numbers just keep rising. We have more demand for drug treatment, and our treatment capacity can’t keep up.

“The President’s budget request came out three months ago, and so far neither House nor Senate leadership has made any commitment to investing the $1.1 billion that our communities so desperately need. Meanwhile, based on 2014 overdose rates, at least 10,000 Americans have already died from opioid overdoses in 2016, and tens of thousands more lives hang in the balance.

“Further silence, delays and obfuscations are irresponsible, and leadership must step up to meet the resource challenges of the opioid and heroin crisis. If Congress cannot fulfill the President’s $1.1 billion request, they risk leaving meaningful legislative achievements on opioid bills remembered primarily as smoke-and-mirrors election-year posturing to mask a leadership failure in funding.

“None of this diminishes the tremendous work and commitment of bill sponsors, Committee chairs and ranking members, and advocates who can take pride in the important legislation passed by the House this week. But we cannot simply declare victory: Congress has unfinished business, and should not rest until committing to an investment that would finally mark a turning point in the opioid overdose epidemic.”

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