CLEVELAND – Ohio's U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman applauded the Trump Administration which declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency Thursday. Brown has worked with members of both parties to secure federal resources and address the opioid crisis in Ohio communities, which have been hit particularly hard.
By declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency, the Trump Administration can now take important steps that Brown has called for to address the crisis, including additional funding and lifting an outdated cap on the number of beds covered by Medicaid at residential treatment facilities. Brown has a bill with U.S. Senator Rob Portman, which would also lift the outdated cap.
“Communities across Ohio don’t need a declaration to tell them the opioid crisis is an emergency. While this is an important step, combatting the opioid epidemic requires more than words -- it requires meaningful action and investment,” said Brown. “Law enforcement officers throughout Ohio have told me that we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. I hope that the Administration works quickly and prudently to finally take the steps necessary to call this opioid epidemic what it is – a national emergency – and follow-up with meaningful action and investment.”
The Trump Administration’s declaration of a national emergency comes following recommendation from the Administration’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Several of the Commission’s recommendations are proposals Brown has worked on, including:
Eliminating an outdated cap on the number of beds at substance abuse treatment facilities that can be covered under Medicaid. Current law limits use of Medicaid funding for residential mental health or substance abuse treatment to facilities with just 16 beds or less, which prevents many Ohioans from getting the help they need. Brown has legislation with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to lift the cap so Ohioans can get care. The Commission’s report notes this is one of the quickest ways to get people into treatment.
Portman said, "There is no doubt that this heroin and prescription drug epidemic is a crisis affecting our entire country, and I applaud the president for his decision to declare it a national emergency. While Congress has made some progress in addressing this crisis by passing the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act and the 21st Century CURES Act, we can and should do more. We must continue to fully fund important programs on prevention, treatment, and recovery, and we must take additional legislative action to help stop overprescribing, increase the number of treatment beds covered by Medicaid at residential treatment facilities, and help stop the flow of synthetic opioids that are shipped into this country through the postal service. I was pleased the Trump Administration again endorsed the STOP Act in its interim opioid report last week, and I would urge the Senate to act on this bipartisan legislation soon.”
Increasing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Brown has worked on legislation to expand use of MAT, which was included in the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA), which Brown supported. He has also cosponsored The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act (TREAT Act) to further expand access to this effective form of treatment.
Increasing access to naloxone. Brown has called on the government to boost funding to help first responders maintain a supply of naloxone and supported CARA, which authorized funding for overdose reversal drugs.
Providing more resources to Customs and Border Patrol to keep fentanyl out of the U.S. Brown teamed up with Senator Portman on a pair of bills to help block the flow of fentanyl to Ohio communities, the INTERDICT and STOP Acts. The STOP Act, which Brown is cosponsoring, would help USPS detect these drugs. Brown’s INTERDICT ACT provides Customs and Border agents with additional resources to screen for fentanyl safely and effectively.
Last week, Brown applauded a proposal issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reduce the production of prescription opioids by 20 percent next year. The DEA is responsible for establishing annual quotas determining the exact amount of each opioid drug that is permitted to be produced in the U.S. each year. Brown asked the agency to take this step.