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Gillibrand announces that bill targeting the opioid epidemic could pass as early as this week



WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the opioid epidemic continues to hurt communities across New York State, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that following her push, the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes critical funding that would help communities combat the opioid crisis. This legislation, which could pass the Senate as soon as this week, includes $3.7 billion in federal funding for treatment and prevention programs that would help communities throughout New York fight against the opioid epidemic.

“Communities across New York State are desperate for resources and funding to stop the opioid epidemic, and Congress urgently needs to step up and help,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “I was proud to fight for a substantial increase in federal funding in the Health and Human Services spending bill, and I was very pleased that my request for these funds was approved and included in this must-pass legislation. Now we are one step closer to giving New York’s towns and cities access to millions of dollars in federal aid to battle the opioid crisis, and I will continue doing everything in my power to make sure our state has all the resources it needs.”

Last year, the opioid epidemic is estimated to have killed nearly 50,000 Americans, including 3,466 New Yorkers. This represents a record number of deaths due to opioid overdose. Gillibrand fought for critical funding and resources to be included in the upcoming Senate appropriations bill to help provide support for local public health officials to fight the opioid crisis.

The programs Gillibrand successfully fought for are included below:  

  • Evidence-Based Public Health Response Programs: Gillibrand fought to include $6 billion in funding for programs that prioritize evidenced-based public health responses and programs in response to the opioid epidemic. This funding would benefit programs that improve overdose data collection, programs that provide resources for opioid education and prevention efforts, and the State Targeted Response Grants Program, which helps provide direct resources to states, Tribes, and communities that are tackling the opioid epidemic.  
  • Community Health Centers: $200 million would be allocated for Community Health Centers, which support and enhance behavioral health, mental health, or substance use disorder services. Gillibrand urged appropriators for full funding of this program earlier this year.
  • Rural Health Care Programs: $120 million in funding would be used to help rural communities respond to the opioid epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug-related deaths are 45 percent higher in rural communities. This funding would support community health centers, outreach and flexibility grants, and the retention and training of rural healthcare providers. Gillibrand pushed to include this funding in the FY19 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill.
  • Public Health and Prevention Fund: Gillibrand also fought for the Public Health and Prevention Fund, which funds the CDC, the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Indian Health Service, all of which play an integral role in combatting and responding to the opioid crisis. Under these programs, the FY19 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill would specifically include the following:
    • $1.5 billion for SAMHSA’s State Opioid Response Grant, which continues a 15 percent set-aside for states with the highest mortality rate related to opioid use disorders.
    • $476 million to the CDC for opioid overdose prevention and surveillance as well as a public awareness campaign. The bill includes $5 million for a new initiative in the CDC to combat infectious diseases directly related to opioid use.

Last year, Gillibrand introduced the bipartisan Opioid Addiction Prevention Act to limit the supply of initial opioid prescriptions to seven days for acute pain in order to target the over-prescription of addictive medication. Gillibrand is also a cosponsor of the Opioid Accountability Act of 2018, which would hold drug manufacturers accountable for the opioid epidemic by prohibiting illegal marketing and distribution of opioids, creating criminal liability for top company executives, and penalizing drug manufacturers who illegally advertise, market, or distribute an opioid product.