Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Billby Senator Mitch McConnell
Posted on 2016-03-09
McCONNELL. Mr. President, the Senate will soon have a chance to
come together in support of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery
Act, a bill designed to help address the prescription opioid and heroin
epidemic that is spreading across our country.
We have seen the impact this crisis is having in all 50 States, how it is affecting people of all different ages and backgrounds. We know that heroin and prescription opioid addiction devastates communities, destroys families, and claims thousands of lives each year, but we also know there are steps we can take here in the Senate that can help heal our Nation. For instance, just a few months ago we appropriated $400 million to opioid-specific programs--which is nearly one-third more than what the Senate appropriated the preceding year--and all $400 million of those funds remain available to be spent today.
We can take another step forward now--a big step--with the passage of this authorization bill. Just listen to what some officials are saying about CARA's potential impact: Northern Kentucky's top anti-drug official said this bill can help ``allow individuals, families, and communities to heal from this scourge.'' The president and CEO of a nonprofit organization with programs in Kentucky noted that CARA can ``create lasting impact in Kentucky'' and ultimately help lead to more Kentuckians ``receiv[ing] the treatment they desperately need. A group that provides overdose prevention training in the Commonwealth said that CARA can give them a ``stronger foundation to move from training to action.'' President Obama's own drug czar noted that provisions like those in CARA are ``critically important to make headway'' in this epidemic.
The bill before us, with all of its important provisions, is the result of hard work and leadership from many colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Of course, there is the lead Republican sponsor of this bill, the junior Senator from Ohio, Mr. Portman, who has worked closely with colleagues in both parties, such as the junior Senator from New Hampshire, Ms. Ayotte, as [[Page S1352]] well as the junior Senator from Rhode Island and the senior Senator from Minnesota. There is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Grassley, who worked to move this bill quickly out of committee by voice vote.
I also thank the many Senators who worked with the bill managers to process the kinds of amendments both sides agreed would make this bill even better. That includes the senior Senators from Iowa and California, whose amendment would aid in targeting illegal drug importation. It includes the senior Senator from West Virginia, whose amendment will build upon education and awareness efforts in an effort to underline the dangers of opioid abuse. It includes the junior Senator from Pennsylvania, whose amendment would allow Medicare Advantage and Part D plans to implement a prescription drug abuse prevention tool, a tool similar to what is already available and used in Kentucky in the Medicaid Program and in private plans.
The bipartisan collaboration we have seen thus far shows what we can achieve on behalf of the American people when we work together toward important shared priorities. The passage of CARA would bring us one step closer to ending prescription opioid and heroin addiction and overdose, so let's keep working together to pass it.