Senate Democrats Still Pushing for More Opioid Funding

Senate Democrats signaled they will continue to push for additional opioid funding in the lame duck, releasing a report Wednesday highlighting the need for it.

The report, put together by Finance Committee Democrats, shows data on the gap between the number of Americans who need treatment for opioid addiction and the availability of those services. It also gives state-by-state data on addiction and overdose rates, as well as profiles of states hit hardest by the epidemic.

The opioid epidemic became a top congressional issue over the past year, resulting in the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. This bill authorized new funding as part of a broader set of reforms, new programs and treatment policies.

Democrats have repeatedly called for additional funding to treat the epidemic. Republicans have pointed to the appropriations process as the best method for increasing funding, rather than emergency funding. The stopgap spending bill funding the government through December contained a small increase in opioid funding, enough to allow CARA implementation over this period of time.

There’s also disagreement over how much additional funding should be given. While President Obama has requested $1 billion, this number is unlikely to be agreed to by Republicans. A proposal by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), popular among Democrats, gave $600 million of emergency funding to the epidemic, but failed along party lines when it came to the Senate floor for a vote.

Lawmakers must pass a bill funding the government for the rest of the year when they come back after the election. The fight over opioid funding will likely continue then.