Larsen wins major victory for Washington communities in fight against opioid epidemic

Dec 1, 2016 Issues: Health Care, Social Services

San Juan Islander: Larsen wins major victory for Washington communities in fight against opioid epidemic

WASHINGTON, D.C.—After urging from Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), the House has voted 392-26 to approve $1 billion to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic as part of the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act.

Larsen last week pressed leaders in the House and the Senate to fund the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, a bill that enacted – but did not fund – sweeping reforms Larsen called for including expanded access to lifesaving overdose reversal drugs and improved pain management and prescription practices. With today’s vote, the House has fulfilled Larsen’s request.

“Washingtonians told me loud and clear about the urgent need for additional resources to take on the opioid epidemic,” said Larsen. “I heard them, and with the help of their ideas, feedback and stories today our country is taking a huge step forward to put communities in Washington state and across the country on the road to recovery.”

The legislation also includes bipartisan reforms for mental health treatment and Medicare – including Larsen’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016 which aims to fund additional psychiatric hospital beds, give family members a greater role in working with mental health professionals, and provide law enforcement officers with training to recognize the signs of mental illness.

Below is a list of funding included in the bill:

· $1 billion over two years to combat the opioid epidemic, with preference given to states with an incidence or prevalence of opioid use disorders that is substantially higher relative to other states;

· $1.4 billion for President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative;

· $1.8 billion, including $1 billion over the next three years, to support Vice President Biden's Cancer Moonshot, and;

· $1.5 billion for President Obama’s BRAIN initiative, which aims to fund research to treat, cure, and prevent brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury.

In August, Larsen conducted an expansive tour of Washington’s 2nd Congressional District where he held a series of events with law enforcement, health officials, advocates, community leaders, and elected officials to discuss new tools made available by the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and to hear directly from stakeholders as to what additional support is needed to address the opioid epidemic.