Warren, Cummings seek $100B to fight opioid epidemic

Warren, Cummings seek $100B to fight opioid epidemic
© Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Harris wants Barr to testify on Mueller report as 2020 Dems call for its release MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsTrump, Congress brace for Mueller findings Ex-Georgia candidate calls for probe, says more than a hundred thousand votes went 'missing' Overnight Health Care: Senators seek CBO input on preventing surprise medical bills | Oversight panel seeks OxyContin documents | Pharmacy middlemen to testify on prices | Watchdog warns air ambulances can put patients at 'financial risk' MORE (D-Md.) introduced a bill to provide $100 billion in funding over 10 years to address the opioid crisis.

This legislation would amount to a significant infusion of new federal dollars aimed at curbing the opioid crisis, which is leading to thousands of deaths each year.

Warren and Cummings argue the opioid crisis needs to be treated like the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The pair modeled their legislation after the bipartisan Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, which passed in 1990 to boost funding to state and local governments to combat the HIV and AIDS.

"We can't defeat the opioid crisis with empty words and half measures," Warren said in a press release. "Our bill will funnel millions of dollars directly to the hardest-hit communities and give them the tools to fight back. Congress has acted before to root out an epidemic when it finally took action against HIV/AIDS — and Americans across the country are counting on us to do the same today."

The bill allocates about $4 billion per year to states, territories and tribal governments — half of which would go to states with the highest levels of overdoses.

It also would give about $2.7 billion to the counties and cities hit the hardest, $1.8 billion toward public health surveillance, $1 billion to expand service delivery and $500 million to increase access to an opioid overdose reversal drug.

"It is time for Congress to come together, put politics aside, and get to the heart of the problem — providing adequate and stable funding for states and local communities,” Cummings said.

Earlier this year, Congress passed a two-year budget deal that included $6 billion to curb the opioid crisis and improve mental health care, making it unlikely more funding could come quickly.

Lawmakers are working to pass opioid legislation this year. The Senate Health Committee and a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee are marking up different bills next week.