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Feds Plan to Spend $4.6 Billion To Fight Opioids, But Is It Enough?

by Countable | Updated on 3.26.18

What’s the story?

Included in the $1.6 trillion dollar omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed by the president last week was a record $4.6 billion to fight the opioid epidemic in fiscal year 2018. Despite that figure being approximately three times what the federal government is currently spending, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle fear it won’t be enough.

Former congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI), who served on President Trump’s opioid commission last year, told the Washington Post that Congress must devote more resources to the fight:

"We still have lacked the insight that this is a crisis, a cataclysmic crisis."

The opioid crisis killed more than 42,000 Americans in 2016. In contrast, the AIDS epidemic, which hasn’t killed those numbers annually since 1995, receives $7 billion in annual funding.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), who also served on the president’s opioid commission, agreed with Kennedy, that Congress must devote more resources to fund all of the commission’s recommendations. A representative made this statement to the Post:

"Governor Baker encourages members of Congress to work together on a plan forward to fully fund the bipartisan recommendations."

The funding included in the omnibus bill, inadequate or not, received wide, bipartisan support.

What do you think?

Is the federal government committing enough resources to the opioid crisis? Should they plan to commit more funds for FY2019? How should they focus their efforts through the funding currently approved?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Marco Verch via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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(45)
  • Leon
    03/26/2018
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    The war on drugs is a failure. Use the money on rehab vs incarceration

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  • Tyrano
    03/26/2018
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    Replying to J: Does using made up vulgar words like “libfags” really help your cause? Is that how Lincoln would have argued his point?

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  • Katharine
    03/26/2018
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    Healthcare for all!! If we took some lessons from other countries that spend far less than we do here in the U.S., we might begin to offer better rehabilitation care to those who struggle with drug abuse, mental illness, chronic health problems, and the many other health concerns we have. The U.S. pays higher costs for the same service in part because the government plays a smaller role in negotiating prices. Overseas,governments compress patient demand by acting as a tough regulator and negotiator for the whole system.

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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    03/26/2018
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    Idiots. No true results without seeking a solution to root cause. This is like spending $4.6 billion on trying to stop rain, to prevent mud slides and people dying and losing family and property. Just because you spend billions of tax payer dollars, giving it to so-called contractors or organizations whose executives take 100’s of millions in bonuses, does not solve anything. Any bill that includes money should require all receiving entities to show how much the executives will receive in total compensation and illustrate how much is actually going to Real performed work.

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  • ConservativeGuy
    03/26/2018
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    I’d like to know what they are going to spend it on. Are they going to open clinics? If yes, how many and where? What protocols are they going to follow and why? Is the money going to be spent directly on those addicted or become a giveaway with vague connections to opioid abuse?

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  • Dave
    03/27/2018
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    80% of heroin addicts started on prescription opioids. Since the 1970s the numbers of opioid deaths has been doubling about every 7-10 years. Every dollar spent to help addiction results in a seven fold return to society. These are statistics I have discovered ever since my oldest son, who started with prescription opioids, died from heroin, and the wasting disease that comes from hardcore use in 2016. A body builder 6 feet in height just a few years before, when he died at age 30 he was 130 pounds. I would have loved to have a sober high school to send him to when he showed signs of addiction at 16 and was expelled, and true mental health treatment parity, but there were too many missed opportunities to list here. This is a bipartisan issue, and today I advocate on both sides of the aisle that the poluter (“Big Pharma”) should pay, and that we should be talking in Trillions of dollars as opposed to the current number being proposed. For decades Perdue Pharma (privately owned by the Sackler family) had teams of salespeople convincing doctors that Oxy wasn’t addictive. They lobbied Congress to obstruct the DEA and intimidate those defending the laws designed to warn us of abusive pharmacies and doctors. The market was flooded with expensive pills, and many people who were addicted turned to heroin to pay for their habit. Therefore I believe the opioid industry should be required to create a Superfund to help clean up the mess they created, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should administer that fund. CDC is the agency charged with responding to diseases, and particularly disease epidemics. Addiction to opioids is a disease epidemic. CDC’s focus is public health; this epidemic is, first and foremost, a public health crisis. In collaboration with other federal agencies, CDC will guide decision-making and evaluation regarding fund expenditures, and will be accountable to Congress and the public. An advisory panel made up of representatives of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Department of Education (DOE) will consult with the CDC in these efforts. Where will the money go? 100% of the fund will be spent on comprehensive efforts to reduce the incidence of opioid addiction in the United States and to reduce the harm done to those who are addicted. Funds should be spent in the following areas, with at least 15% of the total fund spent in each: Opioid use prevention Harm reduction and overdose prevention Effective, evidence-based treatment Supports for sustained recovery Research In each area, funding should be used to identify what works and, most importantly, to scale up proven approaches. Research and evaluation should be incorporated into all projects receiving funding. How will funding be structured? Funds will be granted to specific projects that the CDC, in collaboration with other agencies, deems most likely to be effective and cost-effective. Institutions in any sector - governmental, private, or non-profit - should be eligible to apply for and receive grants. The geographic focus and scale of funded projects should be at the CDC’s discretion. All intellectual property created through work funded by these grants should become the property of the federal government for public use. What principles and priorities will guide funding decisions? The CDC will be required to evaluate proposals based on the following principles: Maximizing impact: Highest priority will be scaling up proven approaches to expand their impact. For example: expanding access to buprenorphine and other medically assisted opioid addiction treatments; expanding access to housing, employment, peer support and other services to support long-term recovery. Particular focus will be on projects that intervene in opioid users’ or potential users’ lives at moments of maximum potential impact, e.g.: trouble at school, arrest, non-fatal overdose, decision to seek treatment, discharge from treatment. Preference will be given to projects that multiply their impacts by leveraging other commitments and resources. Targeting impacted areas: There will be no requirement to distribute funds to every state; but the CDC should attempt to spread the benefits of the fund nationally, while targeting areas that have been most affected. Developing model approaches: Innovative projects that can be replicated or scaled up will be a top priority. Building human capital: Training and building skills and knowledge among professionals, support staff and volunteers will be a high priority. Strengthening networks: The fund should help build the capacity of networks to respond comprehensively to the epidemic, and should help break down barriers between networks. For example: removing barriers to comprehensive care for individuals who are dual-diagnosed with substance use disorders and other mental health disorders; improving connections between law enforcement agencies and effective treatment providers; improving housing and other support services for patients receiving medically assisted treatment. Minimizing funding for administrative overhead. What uses should be off limits? No portion of this fund should be spent to: Reimburse or compensate governments or private parties for retroactive costs incurred in connection with the opioid epidemic. Relieve governments or private parties of obligations or costs going forward that have already been allocated or anticipated. Relieve health insurers of their obligations to pay for addiction treatment and related services. Pay for ordinary, ongoing operations of governmental or private entities.

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  • SneakyPete
    03/27/2018
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    “OPIOID EPIDEMIC 😷” I’m of a opinion that the $1.6 trillion dollar omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed by the president last week with a record $4.6 billion to fight the opioid epidemic in fiscal year 2018, is a small step in the right direction. However,despite that figure being approximately three times what the federal government is currently spending, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle fear it won’t be enough. The $4.6 Billion, in combination with other existing Federal and local efforts, should create a barometer of of the effectiveness of current programs. Additionally we can see indications of future steps that can be taken, and the funding required. However, we don’t want to see, which often happens in the Halls of Congress. That being, just throwing $$$$$$ at the issue, without the processes to evaluate the effectiveness and results of funding allocated. 3*26*18.

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  • Hillary
    03/27/2018
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    Spending billions to fight opioid addiction is a waste of money. Spend that money on the things addicts and all people live for- meaningful work, art, craftsmanship, music and drama to be able express the full range of human emotion not solely anger. When a society removes all the education for skills that make us fully human is it any wonder that then our society reacts with self destructive behavior? Lashing out with anger and violence? Our government wants to do something about the opioid crisis but only if they can continue to pay the same ineffective people to do the same ineffective garbage that got us here in the first place! Fund life enhancing endeavors and watch our society’s life become enhanced. Treat our boys and young men, girls and young women with respect for their humanity, embrace their well rounded emotional development that displays not cold machismo and anger but love, courage, empathy, sympathy, grief, fear, uncertainty, self assurance, pride in a job well done, shame, respect-the facets that make life a brilliant display.

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  • Ivan
    03/27/2018
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    Addicts are victims. Go after big pharma and the people rich people that accept bribes to prescribe. Profit from illegal drugs is the reason for the insanity. Take the profit from all illegal drugs and things will change. Over 40 years of doing the same thing with bad results is a crime in itself. It just doesn’t make sense.

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  • amybett
    03/26/2018
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    Any efforts addressing the Opioid Crisis should start with Big Pharma: less production, less promotion of opioid drugs to Doctors. Alternative pain relief methods should be highlighted instead. Handling the current addicted population should not simply replace one opioid with another during recovery.

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  • Phillip
    03/27/2018
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    Recoup this money from the damn drug companies and doctors who pushed and overprescribed this stuff!

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  • Patricia
    03/26/2018
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    First should be doctors not overprescribing. They are creating drug addicts across the nation.

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  • ZacZamora
    03/27/2018
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    Mike Pence and his Jesuscare caused the epidemic in his home state. What do reps actually know about drugs? Enough that it took this long to do something about the crisis and admit the Republican War on Drugs is dime novel smut? Wow. If they want to do drugs and die so Republicans can make money and pretend divine intervention, go for it.

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  • RadicalModerate
    03/27/2018
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    Legalizing cannabis will save millions of lives.

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  • Azrael
    03/27/2018
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    Put the Portugal plan in practice Check their stats pre and post Don’t waste the money on idiotic committees

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  • John
    03/26/2018
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    Much more needs to be spent on the opioid crisis. And, Big Pharma and doctors need to be called to account for enabling the victims. A few large fines and long prison sentences would make them take notice.

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  • burrkitty
    03/26/2018
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    If by “fight” you mean continue the failures of the last “war on drugs” then no, it’s not enough money and it never will be. Without addressing the problem of healthcare, rehabilitation, and the decriminalization of users, we can never achieve success is reducing drug addiction. Look at Portugal’s model.

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  • Stickyfingers
    03/27/2018
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    Build the Wall. That will stop 95% of opioids coming into the USA.

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  • Mark
    03/26/2018
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    No amount would be enough to make any significant progress, in the fight of opioid addiction. You have to WANT TO quit, And there are too many who are not at that point.

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  • Anne
    03/27/2018
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    So money is being allocated without a plan in place? Yep, sounds like our government!

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