Health chairman: There will be new funding to fight opioids

Health chairman: There will be new funding to fight opioids
© Greg Nash

The chairman of the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday predicted that Congress will provide more money to fight the opioid epidemic. 

"There will be additional new funding," Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline MORE (R-Tenn.) said, noting that the "last significant" funding came from a biomedical innovation bill he sponsored and that passed last year. The bill included $1 billion over two years to fight opioid abuse.

Last week, President Trump declared opioid abuse a national public health emergency. The move didn't come with an infusion of new federal dollars, drawing pushback from some advocates and Democrats, who said robust funding is needed to combat overdose deaths from prescription painkillers and heroin. 

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There's not much money left in the public health emergency fund — about $57,000.

"The public health emergency was a useful power to give to the president, but there's not enough money behind that. I suspect he knows that," Alexander said, adding that fighting the opioid epidemic "is an area the administration has done a good job on, in my opinion."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) helms the president's commission on opioids.

"I think the president has got to sit down with Congress now and Congress has to put this money in," he said on ABC's "This Week."

"The public health emergency fund has only $57,000 in it. So, it's time to fund that," Christie said Sunday. "I would say that you're going see this president initially ask for billions of dollars to deal with this."

On a call with reporters Thursday, Trump administration officials said there have been ongoing discussions with Congress about obtaining more money to deal with opioids. They declined to discuss a specific amount.