CDC spending $20M to fight heroin overdoses

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday announced $20 million in grants to states to fight heroin and prescription drug overdoses, an area of growing bipartisan concern. 

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The grants to 16 states come as part of a new program aimed at helping states fight a growing epidemic.

The funds will go to measures such as developing electronic databases to track drugs dispensed in the state and to educating providers about good prescribing practices for pain medication.

“With this funding, states can improve their ability to track the problem, work with insurers to help providers make informed prescribing decisions, and take action to combat this epidemic,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in a statement. 

Overdose deaths from prescription opioids have quadrupled in the U.S. since 1999, according to the CDC, with more than 16,000 deaths in 2013. 

There were also more than 8,000 heroin overdose deaths in 2013, more than triple the number just three years earlier. 

The CDC also points out that the Obama administration requested additional funds from Congress in its budget request to expand the efforts to all 50 states. The budget asked for $133 million in new drug-abuse funding. 

While that funding is still in question, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have sounded the alarm about drug abuse.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGraham: GOP has votes to confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy This week: Supreme Court fight over Ginsburg's seat upends Congress's agenda MORE (R-Tenn.) praised the CDC’s announcement, which includes funds for his home state of Tennessee, on Friday. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFEC flags McConnell campaign over suspected accounting errors Poll: 59 percent think president elected in November should name next Supreme Court justice Mark Kelly: Arizona Senate race winner should be sworn in 'promptly' MORE (R-Ky.), whose home state of Kentucky has been hard hit by the drugs epidemic, has also focused attention on the issue. 

On the Democratic side, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic groups using Bloomberg money to launch M in Spanish language ads in Florida The Hill's Campaign Report: Presidential polls tighten weeks out from Election Day More than 50 Latino faith leaders endorse Biden MORE this week unveiled a $7.5 billion plan to fight drug abuse. Her goals included training for healthcare providers and ensuring that first responders carry naloxone, a drug that fights overdoses. She also emphasizes treatment instead of prison.