May 24, 2021

Senators Hassan, Shaheen Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Fund Substance Use Disorder Treatment

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined their colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Life Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment (LifeBOAT) Act, which would establish a permanent funding stream to provide and expand access to substance use disorder treatment.

  

“Substance misuse is one of the most pressing public health challenges facing New Hampshire, and we must continue to invest in our communities, which are on the frontlines of this fight,” said Senator Hassan. “The bipartisan LifeBOAT Act will help support the work that we are doing in New Hampshire by providing additional funding to ensure that more people can get the help they need, when they need it.”

 

“COVID-19 intensified the substance use disorder epidemic in New Hampshire and throughout the country. Families, providers and communities bore witness to how one public health crisis exacerbated another. As we work to put COVID behind us, enhancing our response to the substance use disorder epidemic must be a key part of our recovery effort,” said Senator Shaheen. “That’s why I’m glad to partner with Senator Manchin and this group of lawmakers to reintroduce our legislation that would boost resources for law enforcement, local leaders and other frontline workers who are fighting to turn the tide of the substance use disorder crisis. Granite Staters and Americans across the country who are struggling need help now more than ever, which is why it is essential that Congress take action. This legislation is a meaningful step in the right direction and I urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to join us in this effort.”

  

The bipartisan LifeBOAT Act would establish a 1 cent stewardship fee on each milligram of active opioid ingredient in a prescription pain pill to fund efforts to provide and expand access to substance abuse treatment. The bill also includes a rebate program for cancer-related pain and hospice care, and exempts drugs used exclusively for the treatment of opioid addiction. That funding could be used for: 

 

  • Establishing new addiction treatment facilities, residential and outpatient.
  • Recruiting, training, and/or increasing reimbursement for mental health providers providing substance use disorder treatment, particularly in medically underserved or rural communities.
  • Expanding access to long-term, residential treatment programs.
  • Establishing and/or operating support programs that offer employment services, housing, and other support services to help a recovering addict transition back into society.
  • Establishing and/or operating facilities to provide care for babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome.
  • Establishing and/or operating substance abuse treatment programs in conjunction with Adult and Family Treatment Drug Courts.

 

Senator Hassan is leading bipartisan efforts to combat the substance use disorder crisis, and since 2017, Senators Hassan and Shaheen have worked to secure more than $86 million to New Hampshire in State Opioid Response grant funding to address the substance use disorder epidemic. Senator Hassan is also leading bipartisan efforts to vastly increase access to life-saving addiction medicine by pushing to eliminate a requirement that currently blocks millions of highly trained health professionals from prescribing medication-assisted treatment to their patients. In April, the Biden administration announced that it is removing some of the more burdensome barriers that Senator Hassan is working to eliminate.

 

Shaheen has spearheaded legislation and funding to stem the opioid epidemic, including through her leadership on the pivotal Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. In government funding legislation signed into law in 2019, Shaheen included a key provision from the 2019 version of her legislation - Turn the Tide Act - to provide flexibility for treatment providers to use State Opioid Response (SOR) grant dollars to help patients suffering from meth and cocaine dependency, in addition to opioid use disorders. Shaheen wrote the provision in response to discussions with New Hampshire treatment providers. Shaheen retained this provision in government funding legislation for fiscal year (FY) signed into law in December.

 

Background information on the LifeBOAT Act can be found here. Bill text can be found here.

 

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