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Franken calls for funding to fight opioid epidemic

U.S. Sen. Al Franken is pushing for significant new federal investments to beat back the opioid crisis, a full-blown epidemic that steals more than 140 American lives each day.

Although President Trump has declared the epidemic a public health emergency, the federal government — much to the dismay of state, local, and community officials who face the crisis head on each and every day — has not allocated new funding to the fight. In response, Franken is pushing the federal government and Congress to step up to the plate.

That's why Franken is helping introduce new legislation, the Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act, to invest $45 billion into American communities that want to improve their prevention, treatment, recovery, and monitoring efforts. This step would help put our local communities on stronger footing to respond to the epidemic.

"When I travel around Minnesota, I hear from community after community that families are being ripped apart by opioid addiction," said Sen. Franken, a member of the Senate Health Committee. "Deadly overdoses continue to steal our mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, loved ones, and friends. This epidemic cuts across all demographics and populations, and affects people in every corner of the country. While I'm glad that the Trump administration has acknowledged the magnitude of this crisis by declaring it a public health emergency, we badly need additional resources to address the epidemic. I want to see us make significant new investments in opioid prevention, treatment, recovery, and monitoring—all things that the legislation I helped introduce would do. This crisis is destroying Minnesota communities, and it demands a serious response."

The Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act would:

- Authorize and appropriate $4.5 billion for substance abuse programs for the individual states for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2027.

- Build upon bipartisanship by adding this funding to the Account for the State Response to the Opioid Abuse Crisis, which was created by the 21st Century Cures Act. The 21st Century Cures Act passed the Senate with 94 votes.

Expand the use of funding already allowed under 21st Century Cures, so that states may also use this money for detection, surveillance and treatment of co-occurring infections, as well as for surveillance, data collection, and reporting on the number of opioid overdose deaths.

- Promote research on addiction and pain related to substance abuse, and authorizes and appropriates $50,400,000 for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2022. Under the bill, the National Institutes of Health would be responsible for distributing this money.

- Provide stable, long-term funding, a total of $45 billion over ten years to the states and over five years to research efforts. This is similar to the stable, long-term investment that Senate Republicans proposed as a response to the opioid emergency.

- Not replace coverage for treatment under Medicaid or the treatment requirements for private insurance in the Affordable Care Act. Both of these remain critical for combating the opioid abuse epidemic.