WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS), today announced that the budget agreement includes an additional $6 billion in funding over the next two years for programs directly targeting the opioid epidemic. As chairman, Blunt has led efforts to increase opioid-related funding and repeatedly called for increased resources to combat the epidemic.
“The opioid epidemic claims 115 lives every day,” said Blunt. “Opioid overdoses have surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in this country. In addition to the human toll, opioid abuse is costing our economy more than $78 billion a year. The magnitude of this public health crisis demands an equally significant response, and the funding increase announced today marks a major step in the right direction.”
As Labor/HHS chairman, Blunt has led efforts to increase funding for opioid-related programs by nearly $760 million – a 1,300 percent increase – over the past two years. The $6 billion in additional opioid-related funding announced today will provide increases for Labor/HHS programs, as well as law enforcement efforts related to substance abuse and mental health programs.
Blunt continued, “Ensuring we have adequate funding to address this crisis is critical, but it’s not a silver bullet. We need a multi-faceted response, and that has to include expanding access to behavioral health care and treating mental health like all other health, stemming the number of people who become addicted in the first place, and developing alternative treatments for pain management. Making sure we have the resources and policies in place to tackle this epidemic and save lives has been, and will continue to be, one of my top priorities.”
At a Republican leadership press conference last week, Blunt called for increased resources to address the opioid epidemic. In remarks on the Senate floor and in a USA Today op-ed with U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Blunt outlined the steps necessary to combat the opioid epidemic. In December, Blunt held a hearing to examine prevention, treatment, and recovery activities related to the opioid crisis.