Bill authorizes $50 million over five years for Community Action Agencies and Community Action Partnerships responding to opioid addiction; funding awards would range from $50,000 to $1 million

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced The Community Action Opioid Response Act of 2018 to support community prevention and treatment efforts for low-income families impacted by the opioid epidemic. This bipartisan legislation would establish a new, competitive grant program to help Community Action Agencies (CAAs) and Community Action Partnerships (CAPs) to grow and support effective community efforts to identify and respond to the causes and consequences of opioid misuse and addiction. A companion bill was introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA).

“In Minnesota and across the country, no place has been immune from the devastating effects of opioid abuse. We must explore every available path to ending this epidemic, and we can start by investing in our communities,” Klobuchar said. “The Community Action Opioid Response Act will provide crucial funding for prevention and expanding access to treatment and support services for low-income families impacted by addiction.”

“CAAs and CAPs are uniquely positioned to help take on the opioid crisis.  They can leverage their existing programs, community relationships, and existing infrastructures to respond to the unmet needs resulting from the opioid crisis, but they need more help,” Collins said. “Our bipartisan bill would give these agencies additional resources to develop the wrap-around services that make it possible for treatment to succeed.”

CAAs and CAPs are a nationwide network of more than 1,000 anti-poverty organizations that create, coordinate, and deliver services to individuals and families in need to help them achieve self-sufficiency.

The Community Action Opioid Response Grant would support a wide range of activities, including:

• Public education and community awareness;

• Outreach and referral to appropriate treatment, recovery, and other resources;

• Direct services to prevent, treat, or recover from opioid addiction;

• Services to stabilize education, employment, housing, transportation, and other needs of individuals and families;

• Services to address the impact of opioid addiction on children;

• Support for children and their caregivers, including grandparents and other relative caregivers, who are in foster care or at-risk of foster care placement;

• Development of innovative community-based services using a two-generation approach that responds to the needs of parents and children together who are experiencing opioid misuse or addiction;

• Development of a broad array of diverse community partnerships to coordinate and expand resources to individuals and their families; and

• Training for CAA and CAP personnel in opioid addiction issues, including early identification of at-risk individuals and the administration of overdose prevention drugs.

Grants would be awarded for up to three years, and the Secretary would be required to take into consideration the relative proportion of awards among rural and urban areas.  The bill would authorize $50,000,000 over five years.  Each grant award would be no less than $50,000 and no more than $1,000,000.

As a former Hennepin County Attorney, Klobuchar has long led local and national efforts to curb drug abuse and help people overcome addiction. In February, Klobuchar and Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 Act. The bill will increase the funding authorization levels for the CARA programs enacted in 2016 and put in place additional policy reforms to help combat the opioid epidemic.

To build on the monumental first step of CARA, Klobuchar introduced the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act, which would require the use of strong prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in all states that receive certain federal funding to combat opioid abuse and also requires states to make their PDMP data available to other states.

Last year, she and ten other senators introduced the Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment (LifeBOAT) Act, which would establish a reliable funding stream to provide and expand access to substance abuse treatment. She and a bipartisan group of senators also introduced the Synthetic Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances (SALTS) Act. The SALTS Act would make it easier to prosecute the sale of “analogue” drugs, which are synthetic substances that are substantially similar to illegal drugs.

Last year, Klobuchar and Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced the bipartisan Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act to help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through our borders to drug traffickers in the United States.

In September 2014, the DEA implemented Klobuchar’s bipartisan Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act. Under the legislation, consumers are provided with more safe and responsible ways to dispose of unused prescription medications and controlled substances.