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. 


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 Alexander The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Liberal group urges Senate panel to vote against Scalia as Labor secretary Suburban anxiety drives GOP on guns 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 McConnellO'Rourke responds to Buttigieg's gun criticism: 'That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place' Cicilline on Trump investigations versus legislation: 'We have to do both' The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation 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 ClintonDershowitz: 'Too many politicians are being subject to criminal prosecution' The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Democrats spar over electoral appeal of 'Medicare for All' 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.