Senate Dems Press Leaders to Include Opioid Funding in Cures Bill

Four Senate Democrats are urging leaders to include funding to combat opioid abuse in a medical innovation bill that could get a vote before the end of the year.

Sens. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Ed Markey (Mass.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid Tuesday calling on them to add opioid addiction funding to the 21st Century Cures Act, which lawmakers hope to pass during the lame-duck session.

The senators reference proposals to provide $600 million in emergency funding and another $920 million over two years to fund state programs. Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act in July. The legislation authorized millions for treatment and prevention programs, but did not include amendments with federal funding.

The 21st Century Cures Act, which aims to speed the development of medical cures, could be brought up for a vote in the House as soon next week, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said last week. The measure has bipartisan support, but has stalled over new funding for the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration.

The measure may also become a vehicle for other legislation. Lawmakers expect a mental health reform bill will be included in the medical innovation bill, and lawmakers and aides have said they expect some opioid funding to be included, too.

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