(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Targeted Opioid Formula Act with Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to prioritize federal funding for states that have been hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, including New Hampshire and West Virginia. The bill would require the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which operates under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to take into account mortality rates and lack of access to treatment and services when allocating State Targeted Response Opioid Crisis Grants, rather than making grant determinations for states based on population size.
“Federal resources should be appropriately prioritized for communities hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. New Hampshire continues to set overdose death records, yet is not getting a proportional amount of federal support,” said Senator Shaheen. “My legislation would provide urgently needed resources to New Hampshire communities that are bearing an enormous burden. Additional funding is immediately needed to give first responders a helping hand and provide more treatment for those suffering from substance use disorders.”
“With people dying every day in New Hampshire from the devastating fentanyl, heroin, and opioid epidemic, it is essential that the federal government provide adequate resources to match the urgency and severity of this crisis in the hardest-hit states across the United States,” said Senator Hassan. “I have long said that the funding formula used to allocate funding from the 21st Century Cures Act is flawed and that funding must be distributed based on per capita death rates instead of just favoring the biggest states. This legislation is critical to changing that formula so that states most impacted by this epidemic receive the resources they need to combat this crisis and help save lives. I will continue working to move this important bill forward so that we can help stem and ultimately reverse the tide of this deadly epidemic.”
“West Virginia is ground zero in the opioid epidemic and this legislation will ensure that the necessary resources are allocated to help our communities beat this public health crisis,” said Senator Manchin. “Requiring HHS and SAMHSA to weigh mortality rate and lack of access to services when allocating CURES funding will help ensure that this funding will go to the places that need it most and that our West Virginia communities on the front lines have the support they need to end this epidemic once and for all.”
“The opioid crisis has affected lives and communities across the country, but some states—including West Virginia—have been hit harder than others,” said Senator Capito. “This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that states dealing with the worst of the drug epidemic are receiving an appropriate share of the resources being provided to fight it. By targeting resources to where they’re needed most, we can make our efforts to fight this epidemic more strategic and more effective.”
The bipartisan bill would change how federal agencies determine State Targeted Response Opioid Crisis Grant funding for Fiscal Year 2018 to prioritize states like New Hampshire and West Virginia, which have the highest mortality rates from opioid overdoses in the nation. This federal grant program was created by the 21st Century Cures Act that was signed into law last year. Last month, Senator Shaheen criticized the Trump administration for refusing to change the federal funding formula to give preference to states that have been severely impacted by the opioid crisis. Senators Shaheen and Hassan outlined necessary changes to the opioid funding formula in an April letter to former HHS Secretary Tom Price following a meeting at the White House with Governor Chris Christie, the Chairman of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addition.
Senator Shaheen, the lead Democrat on the Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee, sent a letter to President Trump earlier this month with a group of 22 senators, calling on the President to support additional funding necessary to fight the opioid epidemic. Senator Shaheen has been a leader in Congress on combating the opioid crisis, and recently helped unveil legislation that would provide $45 billion to respond to the epidemic, which is the largest opioid response bill to date.