U.S. Senate sends bill addressing opiate addiction as health problem to President Obama

07/14/2016 10:11 AM

With a 92 to 2 vote the U.S. Senate approved comprehensive addiction legislation in a bipartisan manner.

The bill known as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, or CARA, will essentially change the way police and health care professionals treat people struggling with opioid addiction.

CARA contains numerous proposals passed in recent years in the House and Senate. The bill which is expected to be signed by President Obama would strengthen treatment programs and increase access to the overdose halting drug Naloxone — which is already in use in Kentucky.

“This is a comprehensive legislative response to the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic devastating Kentucky and our nation,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. “I’m happy to see it on its way to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

“By increasing prevention, treatment, recovery, and law enforcement tools, CARA can help prevent more people from struggling with addiction to begin with, and it can help foster long-term healing for those already struggling with addiction.”

The legislation nearly became bogged down under concerns over funding — Obama requested $1.1 billion to pay for the programs authorized under the legislation. The House and Senate provides about half that amount, according to NPR.

The New York Times reports that additional funding could be included in the appropriations process later this year.

“At a time when drug overdoses claim 129 American lives every day, it’s painfully clear that even more can be done,” McConnell, R-Kentucky, said. “That’s why in addition to the CARA legislation, this Senate majority has provided more than double the funding that the previous majority provided for opioid-related issues.”

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, also remarked on the passage of the legislation applauding the Senate for “coming together to do the right thing.”

“As the lead Republican sponsor of the TREAT Act, I have worked with Senator Markey and a bipartisan coalition to speak up for those denied help by arbitrary federal interference,” Paul said. “[Wednesday’s] victory is an encouraging sign of what we can accomplish when we decide to get Washington out of the American people’s way. I urge the President to quickly sign the bill into law.”

The legislation will also direct the Department of Justice to find ways over the next five years to find ways around jail and prison for those addicted to opiates.


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