Kuster, Jenkins Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve 21st Century Cures Funding Formula
**Bill would address issues that have led to states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic not receiving adequate funding**
**Introduction follows announcement by HHS, SAMHSA that it would not change its funding formula for FY 2018**
(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-WV), members of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, introduced the Federal Opioid Response Fairness Act, bipartisan legislation to ensure that the states most affected by the opioid crisis receive appropriate resources under the 21st Century Cures Act. The 21st Century Cures Act, which passed last year with bipartisan support, appropriated $1 billion in funding to address the opioid epidemic. In the 21st Century Cures Act, Congress targeted Cures funding to “States with an incidence or prevalence of opioid use disorders that is substantially higher relative to other States.” Unfortunately, during the distribution of Cures funding, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) relied on a funding formula that benefited states with larger populations. The legislation introduced by Kuster and Jenkins would make clear that per capita overdose deaths should be a part of the formula used to distribute Cures funding. The introduction follows yesterday’s announcement by HHS and SAMHSA that there would be no change in the funding formula for the distribution of opioid State Targeted Response (STR) grants.
“My home state of New Hampshire has been devastated by the opioid epidemic,” said Congresswoman Kuster, co-founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force. “It’s hurting families and communities in every corner of the state and we desperately need to get additional resources to those on the frontlines to expand prevention, treatment, and recovery services. I was extremely disappointed that HHS and SAMHSA interpreted Congressional intent in Cures to assist states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic by focusing merely on states with the largest population. I’m pleased to join with my colleague Congressman Jenkins who also represents a state struggling from the crisis to introduce this commonsense legislation.”
“The opioid epidemic has touched every community in West Virginia, and federal agencies must prioritize helping the states struggling the most,” Rep. Jenkins said. “This legislation will make sure that West Virginia and other states hardest hit by the drug crisis get the resources they need to truly make an impact in combating this epidemic. I applaud Congresswoman Kuster for her tireless efforts to help people find recovery, and I am proud to stand with her to introduce this legislation.”
The Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, which has more than 90 congressional members, aims to develop best practices and foster interagency collaboration to address the epidemic. In 2016, the Task Force successfully pushed for the passage of eighteen bills in one week, which became part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S.524). The Task Force has also held numerous hearings and briefings, both in Washington and in communities impacted by addiction, to educate lawmakers about effective means to curb the crisis.