September 11, 2019

Senator Hassan Takes to Senate Floor to Urge Congress to Provide More Resources to Combat Devastating Opioid Epidemic

To watch Senator Hassan’s floor speech, click here.

WASHINGTON – As the Senate Appropriations Committee considers funding bills for the next fiscal year, Senator Maggie Hassan took to the Senate floor today to urge Congress to provide more resources to combat the devastating opioid epidemic. The Senator specifically called on the Appropriations Committee to fully fund the State Opioid Response grant program, which has provided more than $50 million to New Hampshire over the past two years.

 

“I urge my colleagues on the Committee to ensure that State Opioid Response Grants – which have been a vital tool in increasing access to treatment, recovery, and prevention – are fully funded,” Senator Hassan said. “While these grants should be increased, they must at the very least be fully funded at the Fiscal Year 2019 levels. It is also imperative to continue prioritizing hardest-hit states, and to give communities additional flexibility to use this funding to address other substances that are being used in conjunction with or instead of opioids. While the vast majority of overdose deaths in New Hampshire still involve opioids – specifically fentanyl – we are seeing substances like crystal methamphetamine emerge as a growing issue. Additional flexibility in funding can help communities respond to this challenge in real time.”

 

Senator Hassan also called on her colleagues to pass Senator Shaheen’s Turn the Tide Act, which Senator Hassan has cosponsored to invest $63 billion in flexible opioid funding over ten years.

 

The Senator began her remarks by citing Moms in Recovery – an organization that she visited recently at Dartmouth-Hitchcock – as an example of the type of innovative approaches to combating this crisis that need Congress’s support. Moms in Recovery provides everything from medication-assisted treatment, to counseling and parenting classes, to help pregnant and parenting women struggling with substance misuse get on the road to recovery.

 

“Providers said that what started as a program for five women is now serving 60,” Senator Hassan said. “It has transformed from a program that just served pregnant women – to one that is now serving women after they give birth, working to help them stabilize their lives and reengage in our workforce and in our communities.”

 

Senator Hassan continued, “This crisis didn’t begin overnight and it won’t be solved overnight. And what we need at the federal level is a long-term solution and additional certainty, so that states and communities know that they will have stable and consistent federal funding as they implement strategies and treatment programs that will help save lives.”

 

Senator Hassan has been leading efforts in Congress to ensure that those on the front lines receive the support that they need to safely and effectively combat this crisis. Senator Hassan worked with the rest of the New Hampshire delegation to secure more than $6 billion in the 2018 budget agreement for government-wide efforts to combat the epidemic, and made sure that the hardest-hit states – like New Hampshire – were prioritized in the appropriations process. The Senator also worked to pass the SUPPORT Act – which the President signed into law – that included critical priorities for New Hampshire such as establishing comprehensive opioid recovery centers and expanding access to medication-assisted treatment.

 

See below or click here for the Senator’s full speech.

 

Mr. President, as the Senate Appropriations Committee prepares its markup of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Fiscal Year-2020 budget – I rise today to discuss the urgent need for additional funding to combat the fentanyl, heroin, and opioid crisis.  

 

Mr. President, the substance misuse crisis continues to ravage communities in my home state of New Hampshire and all across our country.

 

People in New Hampshire are doing vital work to address this crisis and get those who are struggling the support that they need to get – and stay – healthy.

 

Just last month, I visited Moms in Recovery in Lebanon – an addiction services program through Dartmouth-Hitchcock that is providing comprehensive care to get pregnant and parenting women the services that they need to address substance misuse.

 

In Lebanon, New Hampshire, Moms in Recovery offers everything from medication-assisted treatment, to group therapy, counseling, outpatient therapy, parenting classes, and more.

 

Providers said that what started as a program for five women is now serving 60. It has transformed from a program that just served pregnant women – to one that is now serving women after they give birth, working to help them stabilize their lives and reengage in our workforce and in our communities.

 

Mr. President, people in my state are implementing innovative approaches to help their friends and neighbors – and Congress needs to give them the support that they need to help save lives. 

 

Mr. President, I have been proud to work with Senator Shaheen and my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to strengthen support for treatment, recovery, prevention, and law enforcement efforts.

 

This includes working to secure more than $6 billion in the 2018 budget agreement for government-wide efforts to combat this crisis and ensuring that, as the appropriations process progressed, hardest-hit states – including the Granite State – were prioritized.

 

Last year, we also passed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act – which the President signed into law – that included among many critical priorities the following:

 

·         Establishing comprehensive opioid recovery centers

·         Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment, and

·         Supporting law enforcement in its efforts to curb the shipment of fentanyl through the postal service

 

But nobody in this body should think that our work is anywhere near complete.

 

As the Appropriations Committee considers funding bills for the next fiscal year, I urge my colleagues on the Committee to ensure that State Opioid Response Grants – which have been a vital tool in increasing access to treatment, recovery, and prevention – are fully funded. While these grants should be increased, they must – at the very least – be fully funded at the Fiscal Year 2019 levels. 

 

It is also imperative to continue prioritizing hardest hit states, and to give communities additional flexibility to use this funding to address other substances that are being used in conjunction with or instead of opioids.

 

While the vast majority of overdose deaths in New Hampshire still involve opioids – specifically fentanyl – we are seeing substances like crystal methamphetamine emerge as a growing issue. Additional flexibility in funding can help communities respond to this challenge in real time.

 

Mr. President, this crisis didn’t begin overnight and it won’t be solved overnight. And what we need at the federal level is a long-term solution and additional certainty, so that states and communities know that they will have stable and consistent federal funding as they implement strategies and treatment programs that will help save lives.

 

One important next step would be to pass Senator Shaheen’s Turn the Tide Act – legislation I’ve cosponsored that would invest $63 billion in flexible funding over ten years supporting treatment and prevention efforts and addressing workforce challenges in the treatment field.

 

This is the kind of long-term, comprehensive approach that we should be taking – and I will continue to join with Senator Shaheen to push for this bill.

 

Mr. President, the fentanyl, heroin, and opioid crisis remains the most pressing public health and public safety challenge facing New Hampshire and many other communities across our country.

 

And the biggest mistake that anyone could make is thinking that our efforts to address this crisis are close to being done.

 

I am going to continue to push to ensure that those on the front lines of this crisis have the support that they need. And I urge my colleagues to join me, so that we can make our families, communities, and country healthier and safer, so that we can help save lives.

 

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor. 

 

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