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Kuster, Katko Push for Support to Smaller Organizations on Frontlines of Opioid Crisis During COVID-19 Pandemic

**Reps. Kuster and Katko introduced the Emergency Support for Substance Use Disorders Act last year during the 116th Congress****The companion bill is being introduced in the Senate by Sens. Tina Smith (MN), Lisa Murkowski (AK)**

Washington, D.C. – Today, Reps. Annie Kuster (D-NH-02) and John Katko (R-NY-24) introduced legislation, the Emergency Support for Substance Use Disorders Act, to create emergency grants during the COVID-19 crisis for states and community-based organizations that serve individuals with substance use disorder (SUD). Kuster and Katko introduced a previous version of this bill during the 116th Congress, which was included in the HEROES Act. This updated, bipartisan legislation will help to address the dual public health crises of COVID-19 and the opioid epidemic by providing additional funding to support smaller organizations on the frontlines of the opioid crisis. 

“The ‘new normal’ during the COVID-19 pandemic has added additional stress for those struggling with substance use disorder, and left those on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic facing dual crises,” said Rep. Kuster. “It’s crucial that we provide support for those dealing with substance use disorder, especially during this health and economic emergency. COVID-19 has made it more difficult for many to get the treatment that they need. This legislation will help ensure that funding can easily and urgently reach providers so that Granite Staters at risk of substance misuse have access to the care and support they need during this uncertain time. I’m proud to join with Representative Katko to reintroduce this commonsense bipartisan bill.” 

“Local substance use disorder providers and nonprofits are grappling with an increase in the number of individuals misusing substances as well as safety precautions that make treatment and outreach more difficult during this pandemic,” said Rep. Katko. “I am proud to join Representative Kuster in introducing bipartisan legislation that will create emergency grants for counties and community-based organizations that serve individuals with substance use disorders. By providing emergency support, we will ensure counties and local organizations have the ability to continue conducting outreach and providing assistance to those struggling with substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), communities across the United States will experience increases in depression, anxiety, trauma, and grief as a result of the pandemic. Because of this, there is an expected increase in substance misuse as lives are impacted by the health and economic consequences of COVID-19. Between July 2019 and June 2020, the CDC reported over 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States - the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period. This bipartisan legislation would provide much-needed support for smaller organizations to continue outreach and education in addressing the addiction crisis.

A member of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, Rep. Kuster has been a leading voice in addressing the dual public health crises of COVID-19 and the opioid epidemic. Rep. Kuster is the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, which has brought attention to the need for the federal government to combat both the opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.