Hoeven Helps Pass Funding Bill Supporting Treatment, Prevention and Research to Address Opioid Abuse, Prioritizes Rural Communities

Senator Continues Advancing Legislation to Prevent Sale, Shipment of Illicit Synthetic Drugs

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, this week joined the Senate in passing Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 funding legislation to help combat the opioid abuse epidemic. Through his role on the committee, Hoeven advocated strong support for the opioid abuse prevention, treatment and recovery programs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Further, the legislation directs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to prioritize efforts to combat opioid abuse in rural communities. This is similar to an amendment Hoeven sponsored and included in the Senate’s farm bill for the Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grant program. Hoeven was subsequently chosen to serve on the Senate-House farm bill conference committee.

These provisions come in addition to funding that Hoeven, who serves as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, secured in the recently-passed Agriculture-FDA funding bill to interdict illicit substances, such as fentanyl, at international mailing facilities and support rural telemedicine grants to help address opioid abuse. 

“This funding legislation is another step in our efforts to support treatment for, and prevention of, opioid abuse, which has placed a tremendous strain on families and communities across the country,” Hoeven said. “Law enforcement, health care and social service providers are hard at work in this effort. Our bill, in addition to other measures we are advancing to help block the sale and shipment of illicit drugs, will help them to be successful in this vital mission.”

            Specifically, the legislation passed today provides for:

  • $1.5 billion for SAMHSA’s State Opioid Response Grant, which includes a set-aside for Indian tribes and tribal organizations.
  • Research related to opioid addiction, development of opioid alternatives, pain management and addiction treatment.
  • Opioid overdose prevention, surveillance and a public awareness campaign at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Community Health Centers to support and enhance behavioral health, mental health and substance use disorder services. 
  • Programs to respond to the opioid epidemic in rural communities, where the CDC says drug-related deaths are 45 percent higher and that rural states are 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, recovery 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.