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Courtney Introduces Bill to Expand Emergency Aid for Growing Opioid and Heroin Crisis

February 3, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) introduced the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, a House companion bill to an identical measure already introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH). Later in the day, Courtney will meet with local activists and students from eastern Connecticut to hear about their efforts to combat drug abuse in their communities.

“As communities across the country continue to grapple with rising prescription drug and heroin abuse, we need to provide them with additional resources to improve upon the coordination of public health outreach, treatment and recovery programs, and law enforcement efforts,” said Courtney. “I am pleased to be joining Senator Shaheen, who has been a national leader on this issue, in her efforts to provide additional emergency funding to help communities across the country turn back the rising tide of drug abuse and addiction. I was encouraged to see yesterday that President Obama’s budget proposal for the coming year includes $1.1 billion in new funding to address prescription opioid and heroin abuse. It is reassuring that the White House is making this issue a top funding priority for next year, however, it is important to note that Senator Shaheen and my legislation, if passed, would make emergency funds available immediately.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH) said: “The federal government needs to do much more to stem the tide of this crisis, that I believe is now a pandemic. I welcome Congressman’s Courtney’s introduction in the House of my emergency funding bill to address this crisis. It’s critical that Congress works quickly to approve these resources for first responders and treatment providers on the frontlines.”

Kevin Skulczyck, Griswold, Connecticut First Selectman and leader of Griswold PRIDE, said: “As Griswold First Selectman, I applaud the efforts of Congressman Courtney. There is no better time than today to fight this war on drugs. As overdoses in our region have reached an all-time high, we need to unite together and conquer this battle.”

The bill introduced today, the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, would authorize $600 million dollars in emergency funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to fund a range of programs aimed at treating the public health emergency brought on by drug addiction, as well as funding law enforcement efforts to end the illegal drug trade. The legislation makes grants available to states to assist in the coordination and improvement of already-existing substance abuse prevention and treatment programs.

Major grant programs at HHS that would receive additional funding include, but are not limited to:

  • Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant- $225 million in additional funds to distribute to states to fund programs related to prevention, treatment, recovery support and other services.  For many states, this is the primary source of federal programs to address the misuse of alcohol and drugs.
  • Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention for States- $50 million to support the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s work on prescription drug monitoring programs, community or insurer and health system interventions and rapid response projects.

Major grant programs at DOJ that would receive additional funding:

  • Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program - $200 million increase to fund state and local programs including, law enforcement, prosecutions and court programs, drug treatment and enforcement programs, as well as prevention and education programs.
  • COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force Grant - $10 million to assist state and local law enforcement with high per capita levels of primary treatment admission for heroin and opioids, conduct drug enforcement initiatives and investigations.  This program targets resources to support police operations on the ground.

The growing collation of advocacy groups that support this bill include: the American Academy of Pain Management, the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Friends of NIDA

Rep. Courtney is to meet with about 60 local activists and students from eastern Connecticut on Wednesday who are taking part in the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) conference in Washington, D.C. this week. The groups will explain how the opioid crisis has impacted their communities, as well as discuss their efforts to stem drug abuse and addiction on the local level. One of these groups, Griswold PRIDE, is led by First Selectman Kevin Skulczyck who was recently featured in the Norwich Bulletin. Pictures from the meeting are available for use upon request.

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