WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith introduced the Opioid Response Enhancement Act with Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to help communities better fight the opioid epidemic that is ravaging communities and families across this country. This reform would expand a grant program that was created as part of the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act of 2017 and ensure states and tribal communities have access to continued and additional funding for the next five years under this program.

“Over 40 percent of people in our country know someone who has suffered from addiction to opioids, and that number continues to grow,” Klobuchar said. “The Opioid Response Enhancement Act will give our communities the resources they so desperately need to prevent addiction, provide access to life-saving treatment, and support recovery services.”

“The opioid crisis has touched every community in Minnesota, and it knows no bounds,” Smith said. “It’s past time that we strengthen the federal response. This bill would make much-needed investments in our states and tribal communities as they fight back against the epidemic.”

In 2017, Congress provided $1 billion over two years of additional funding for state efforts to combat the opioid epidemic under the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act. As the opioid epidemic continues to strain local resources, Congress needs to continue to fund this important program to help our communities combat this crisis beyond 2019, so that states, localities and tribal communities have adequate resources to help prevent and treat substance use disorder and addiction.

The Opioid Response Enhancement Act would provide an additional investment of $12 billion over five years for the State Targeted Opioid Response (STR) Grant, including a new Enhancement Grant for states that have been especially hard hit by the epidemic, including with high opioid mortality rates. It would also provide an additional $1.5 billion for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018 under new resources made available in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

This legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Angus King (I-ME), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Tom Udall (D-NM).

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Provide $10 billion over five years for the current STR Grant program under 21st Century Cures Act beginning in FY19.
  • Add a new STR Enhancement Grant for $2 billion over five years for at least ten states and tribal entities with high needs, including high opioid mortality rates, to enhance and expand opioid abuse efforts under the STR program.
  • Include Tribal entities as eligible for the STR Grants, funded by a 10 percent set aside.
  • Require the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide technical assistance to states and tribes through the Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center, for application procedures, outreach and support to underserved communities, and data collection.
  • Provide flexibility to allow states and tribes to use some of the funding to help address other substance use issues that are similar or substantial public health threats, in addition to carrying out opioid abuse efforts.
  • Direct states to prioritize providing funding directly to local community organizations and counties to ensure that local leaders have access to critical resources to help them address areas of unmet need.  

More information on the legislation is available here. Full text of the Opioid Response Enhancement Act is available here.