The Obama administration on Friday announced plans to spend nearly $100 million to expand treatment for drug addiction amid soaring rates of overdoses nationwide.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy announced the funding in Baltimore one day after the Senate almost unanimously approved a drug abuse bill with a focus on prevention and treatment.
“The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues in the United States today,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in a statement Friday.
The funding, which comes from grants under the Affordable Care Act, will help treatment providers hire about 800 people to work with nearly 124,000 new patients, according to HHS.
Lawmakers on the state and federal level have mounted aggressive efforts to fight drug addiction this year, after record-high rates of overdoses nationwide.
Democrats have criticized the Senate bill, which has been in the works since 2014, for not supplying the necessary funding to begin tackling the problem.
Senate Democrats unsuccessfully pushed for $600 million in new funding in the legislation but were ultimately stymied by Republicans who said there was enough funding in the short term. The White House announced it would be making a "significant" investment to fight drug abuse just minutes after the Senate passed its bill without the funding.
As he announced the HHS funding on Friday, Murthy was flanked by Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiHarris invites every female senator to dinner next week Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Bottom line MORE (D-Md.) and Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R).