Hoeven Helps Advance Funding Legislation to Combat Opioid Abuse

Appropriations Bill Complements Senator’s Efforts to Support Treatment, Prevention & Law Enforcement Initiatives

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today outlined funding he worked to secure in the Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 appropriations legislation to help combat the opioid abuse epidemic. Through his role on the committee, Hoeven advocated strong support for the opioid abuse programs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and as a result, the bill provides $3.7 billion across the agency for opioid addiction treatment, prevention and research. Moreover, the bill includes language directing the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to prioritize efforts to combat opioid abuse in rural communities, similar to an amendment Hoeven sponsored with Senator Joe Donnelly that was included in the farm bill for the Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program under the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This comes in addition to funding Hoeven secured as chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Committee to interdict illicit substances, such as fentanyl, at international mailing facilities, as well as funds for rural telemedicine grants to help address opioid abuse. The full Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved the bill, which funds the Departments of Labor, HHS, Education and related agencies, and it now awaits consideration on the Senate floor.

“Opioid abuse is now the number one cause of accidental death in our nation, claiming the lives of 42,000 people in 2016 and surpassing deaths resulting from motor vehicle accidents,” Hoeven said. “It is vital that we advance a broad array of efforts to address this crisis, which brings tragedy to communities and families across the country. The funding legislation we have passed out of the Appropriations Committee makes strong investments in opioid abuse treatment and prevention initiatives. At the same time, I will continue working to advance legislation I have sponsored to empower law enforcement to stop the sale and shipment of these powerful drugs, especially synthetic fentanyl, into and within the U.S.”

Among other things, the following priorities are included within the legislation:

  • $1.5 billion for the SAMHSA’s State Opioid Response Grant. This includes a $50 million set-aside for Indian tribes and tribal organizations.
  • $500 million for research related to opioid addiction, development of opioid alternatives, pain management and addiction treatment.
  • $476 million for opioid overdose prevention, surveillance and a public awareness campaign at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • $200 million for Community Health Centers to support and enhance behavioral health, mental health or substance use disorder services. 
  • $120 million focused on responding to the opioid epidemic in rural communities. According to the CDC, drug-related deaths are 45 percent higher in rural communities, with rural states more likely to have higher rates of overdose deaths.

These funding measures complement Hoeven’s continued work to provide resources and support to combat the opioid abuse epidemic, including prevention, treatment and law enforcement efforts. This includes Hoeven’s Illegal Synthetic Drug Safety Act, legislation that closes a loophole that enables companies to circumvent the law and sell synthetic variations of drugs, like the powerful drug fentanyl, by labeling the products as “not for human consumption.” 

The senator has also cosponsored the Synthetic Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which would require shipments from foreign countries sent through the U.S. Postal Service to provide electronic data. This will empower Customs and Border Protection to better target potential illegal substances like fentanyl and prevent it from being shipped into the country.