Senate Democrats introduced a bill on Wednesday to invest $45 billion to fight the opioid epidemic, just a day before President Trump is slated to announce how his administration will combat the crisis.
“The Trump administration’s plan to address the opioid epidemic has been little more than empty words and broken promises,” Sen. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDems lambaste Trump’s ‘outrageous’ EPA chemical safety pick Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada Dem senator pitches ideas for gun control after shooting MORE (D-Mass.) said in a press release. “What we need to fight this scourge is continued and reliable long-term investments in prevention, treatment, recovery and monitoring.”
Last week, Trump said he would officially declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, two months after he said his administration was drafting the paperwork to do so. The White House is holding an opioid event on Thursday, suggesting that is when the declaration could be made.
Some advocates and lawmakers have said any such declaration needs to come with significant federal funding to be effective, foreshadowing a possible funding fight in Congress. A total of fourteen Democrats, along with Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingSenate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy Mattis: Staying in Iran deal is of US national security interest MORE (I-Maine), introduced the legislation.
Markey noted that “Republicans have already agreed to this funding language in other recent health debates, and I hope they will once again agree to work with us to get this passed.”
The $45 billion figure is similar to the amount of funding included in the Senate’s ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill.
During the ObamaCare repeal-and-replace debate, Republican leadership initially included $2 billion to fight the opioid epidemic in its bill.
But another $45 billion was eventually added. Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open Reddit hires first lobbyists Senate panel approves bill compelling researchers to ‘hack’ DHS MORE (R-Ohio) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoLawmakers try again on miners’ pension bill How the effort to replace ObamaCare failed It’s time to eliminate the secretive Pharmacy Benefit Manager pricing practices MORE (R-W.Va.) — both of whom come from states hit hard by the epidemic — pushed for more money. The legislation would have ended Medicaid expansion, which is a large payer of behavioral health services, and it was thought that the billions of dollars could have helped, in part, to fill the gap.
Last year, Congress, with large bipartisan support, passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which authorized grants to help states curb the epidemic of prescription painkillers and heroin. The 21st Century Cures bill gave a total of $1 billion over two years to address the epidemic.