NH delegation asks Trump to keep prioritizing opioid funding for hard-hit states in 2020 budget plan
New Hampshire’s congressional delegation is asking President Donald Trump to continue to prioritize funding for states hardest hit by the opioid crisis as he prepares a budget proposal for fiscal 2020.
U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan on Wednesday joined with U.S. Reps. Ann Kuster and Chris Pappas in a letter to Trump asking that strong funding continues for the State Opioid Response grants that were originally established in the 21st Century Cures Act.
“This funding has provided vital support to efforts from health care providers, first responders and families in New Hampshire who are working every day to combat the opioid epidemic,” the four Democrats wrote.
“As you know, New Hampshire remains one of the hardest-hit states in the nation, with approximately 450 drug overdose deaths estimated in the Granite State in 2018. To ensure that our communities have the necessary resources to meet the challenges of the opioid epidemic, we must continue to work together in a bipartisan manner, across Congress, your administration and state governments.
The delegation members wrote that “significant bipartisan progress has been made to provide new investments in substance use disorder treatment.”
They recalled that as part of a bipartisan budget agreement reached in February 2018, they “negotiated a significant increase in federal investments to support opioid response efforts. This agreement called for $6 billion in funding to respond to the opioid crisis over the next two fiscal years.” Shaheen and Hassan were involved in the budget deal negotiations as participants in what was called an informal “Common Sense Caucujs.”
“In order to address the inadequate allocation of funds in previous years for states hardest-hit by the epidemic, the New Hampshire congressional delegation fought successfully for a funding set-aside as a part of the 2018 appropriations law for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” the letter says. “The set-aside allocated 15 percent of the State Opioid Response grant dollars for states with the highest opioid overdose death rates, like New Hampshire.
“The delegation then worked to help ensure that Congress retained the 15 percent set-aside in 2019 Health and Human Services appropriations. We have been pleased that Congress, through the appropriations process, has allocated $2.5 billion for SOR grants over the 2018 through 2019 window.
New Hampshire’s funding increased from $3.1 million in fiscal 2017 to about $22.9 million in each of fiscal years 2018 and 2019.
The delegation wrote that the additional funding led to the development of the “Hub and Spoke” model for substance use disorder treatment, counseling and other support services.”
Gov. Chris Sununu praised the delegation’s work in securing funding during a speech in May 2018 to the Communities for Alcohol- and Drug-Free Youth annual prevention summit.
“The federal delegation deserves a lot of credit, for not just getting more money, but getting it done the right way,” Sununu said in that speech. “God bless you. It’s a constant battle.”
He also noted that the money would arrive with the new formula that prioritizes the hardest hit states.
“And the congressional delegation has done a great job constantly fighting for that, making sure those dollars are going to be there.”
“The program is showing some early successes and has the potential to help significantly increase access to medication-assisted treatment,” the delegation wrote. “However, for this program to make a lasting impact, continuity of federal funding will be necessary. By including ongoing funding for the State Opioid Response grants in your FY 2020 budget proposal, you can help to support the ongoing bipartisan commitment to this program in Congress.
“The FY 2019 grant funding expires on September 30, 2019. Given the scale and scope of the opioid crisis, we need to work together to ensure that resources are available over the long term to meet the challenge. We appreciate your partnership in helping to address the devastating impact that the opioid crisis is having on our communities and urge you to retain this commitment by supporting funding for the State Opioid Response grant program in your upcoming budget proposal.”