President Donald Trump has signed a spending package addressing the nationwide opioid addiction crisis that contributed to more than 70,000 overdose deaths in 2017. The bipartisan legislation, passed by overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress, increases funding for law enforcement and addiction treatment activities.
The package of bills allows states to expand addiction treatment center capacity to accommodate the scope of the epidemic. The legislation also funds research for opioid alternatives, expands the ability of physicians and nurse practitioners to prescribe the anti-addiction medication buprenorphine, and mandates that the U.S. Postal Service collect information on 70 percent of international packages, including all shipments from China.
“[The legislation] will help in terms of both reducing some of this poison coming into our communities, but it also helps with regard to getting people into treatment,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), a leading Senate proponent of the measures, told NPR.
Others, including advocates and even legislators who supported the package, declared that further effort will be needed to address the crisis. “Experts in the field tell us that is not nearly enough,” Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) told NPR. “We have to treat this as a starting point. We have a lot more work to do.”