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House passes opioid bill

May 13, 2016
by Julie Miller, Editor in Chief
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In a 413-5 vote, the House has passed what is essentially its version of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA), which passed the Senate in March with just a single dissenting vote.  The next step would be a conference between the House and Senate, followed by advancing the final bill to the president’s desk. Leaders vow to get the president’s signature on the legislation by July 4.

According to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 5046) establishes a grant program for new and existing programs, such as training for first responders and law enforcement, criminal investigations for the unlawful distribution of opioids, drug courts, and residential substance abuse treatment. The bipartisan bill authorizes $103 million annually for the grants.

It’s important to note that authorizing $103 million isn’t the same as appropriating the funds. Many have criticized the legislative efforts as coming up short. Months ago, the White House had proposed substantial new funding for fiscal year 2017 to address the opioid crisis, and continues to call on Congress to pass the spending measure.

“The flurry of legislative activity cannot hide the glaring failure to take up the White House request for $1.1 billion in additional funding to shrink the treatment gap and prevent overdose deaths,” said the Harm Reduction Coalition’s Policy Director Daniel Raymond in a statement.

While many had hoped the House would pass the Senate version of CARA, leaders in behavioral health believe that bipartisan support and landslide votes in both chambers are encouraging.