May 08, 2019

Warren Leads Members of Massachusetts Delegation in Reintroducing the Bicameral, Comprehensive CARE Act to Combat the Opioid and Substance Use Epidemic

Massachusetts would receive an estimated $120.1 million per year in state and local formula grants under the CARE Act, with opportunity to apply for additional competitive funding

 Read Letters of Support from Labor, Health Advocacy, and Tribal Organizations (PDF)

Read Letter from Massachusetts Sheriffs in Support of the CARE Act (PDF)

View Full List of Endorsements (PDF)

View Targeted Programs for Tribal Nations (PDF)

View Updated State-by-State, County-by-County Funding Breakdown (PDF)

Bill Text (PDF) | Fact Sheet (PDF) | Section-by-Section (PDF)

Video (YouTube)

Washington, DC - Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, today led over 95 of their colleagues in the Senate and House in reintroducing the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, the most ambitious legislation ever introduced in Congress to confront the opioid and substance use epidemic. Endorsed by over 200 organizations, Senator Warren and Representative Cummings' CARE Act would provide state and local governments with $100 billion in federal funding over ten years, including more than $800 million per year directly to tribal governments and organizations.

The legislation is cosponsored by nine members of the Massachusetts federal delegation, including U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), and Bill Keating (D-Mass.).

Originally introduced last year, the updated CARE Act of 2019 includes new provisions to  strengthen standards for services and recovery residences and establish a new grant program that would help workers who are at risk of, or struggling with, addiction to maintain or find employment while in treatment and recovery. The bill would also incentivize states to cover the full range of addiction services in state Medicaid programs.

"For too long, state and local leaders, health officials, and first responders in Massachusetts have been forced to shoulder the burden of the opioid crisis," said Senator Warren. "It's time to confront this crisis head on at the federal level and provide critical support for individuals and families struggling with addiction. I have a plan for that, and I'm proud to partner with my colleagues in the Massachusetts federal delegation to reintroduce it today."

"In Massachusetts, we know the terrible toll of the opioid epidemic all too well. But we also know that instead of giving in to despair, communities here and across the country are responding to this crisis with strength, courage, and resilience. By allocating resources and tools, Congress can build momentum in the fight against opioids and end this epidemic that has taken far too many lives. I'm proud to strongly support the CARE Act, I thank Senator Warren and Chairman Cummings for reintroducing this bill, and I urge our colleagues to join us in this effort," said Representative McGovern.

"There is not a community in Massachusetts or the United States that remains untouched by the ongoing opioid addiction crisis. I hear about it whenever I am traveling throughout my district. From Lawrence, to Lowell, to Gardner families are in need of help. This public health emergency requires a significant and sustained federal response - not half measures or lip service. That is why I am proud to cosponsor the reintroduction of the CARE Act, which will help steer millions of dollars directly to our hardest hit communities to make sure they have the resources necessary to conduct their addiction prevention, education, treatment, and recovery work," said Representative Trahan.

"Too many families across our country live in fear that they will lose a loved one to an overdose," said Representative Clark. "The CARE Act provides significant new resources for prevention, treatment, research, and innovation to fight the opioid epidemic and put Americans struggling with substance use disorder on the road to recovery. We want families to know that we hear you, we care, and we're fighting to get the help you need."

"Overcoming the opioid epidemic requires robust investment in the full continuum of care that strengthens prevention, response and treatment. Too many families have been forced to bury loved ones too soon because their government has failed to match words of concern with the systemic reforms this crisis demands. Under Senator Warren and Chairman Cumming's leadership, we can pass the CARE Act and build on the efforts already being taken on the state and local levels," said Representative Kennedy.

"Everyday, I hear from people who are facing addiction or who have lost a loved one to the opioid crisis ravaging our country," Representative Moulton said. "Congress must pass the CARE Act now and equip American communities with the resources they need to respond to this public health emergency. American lives are at stake."

"My district, the Massachusetts 7th, is a district that is disproportionately burdened by the opioid epidemic, destabilizing households and plaguing our communities," said Representative Pressley. "Instead of continuing the federal war on drugs that has criminalized substance use disorders, we must prioritize prevention & treatment over incarceration. I am proud to co-sponsor groundbreaking legislation like the CARE Act, which focuses on making substantial, long-term investments that our communities need to meaningfully address this horrifying epidemic."

“We can no longer stand by while we continue to witness a public health emergency right in front of our eyes,” said Representative Lynch. “Every member of Congress has seen the devastating effects the opioid epidemic has had on Americans and I am proud to join my colleagues on the CARE Act to help give state and local governments the funding they need to defeat the drug crisis before more lives are lost.”

"My district is home to some of the counties in Massachusetts hit hardest by the opioid crisis," said Representative Keating.  "This disease knows no gender, race, or socio-economic boundaries; it affects everyone. We can no longer rely on piecemeal solutions. The CARE Act is bold, sweeping legislation that will attack all facets of the opioid crisis, and I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this important bill."

Life expectancy in the United States has now dropped three years in a row-and drug overdoses are the single biggest contributor. In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses-the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States. Opioid-related overdoses accounted for 47,600-or 68%-of these deaths. Yet, only about 10% of those in need of specialty treatment for substance use disorders are able to access it.

Massachusetts has been hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis, with a rate of opioid overdose deaths that was almost twice the national average in 2017. Available toxicology data show the deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl, is overwhelmingly responsibility for this ongoing public health crisis in the Commonwealth.

Under the CARE Act, Massachusetts would receive an estimated $120.1 million per year in formula funding to fight substance use disorder and the opioid epidemic, including an estimated $56.6 million per year allocated to the state and an estimated $63.5 million per year distributed among eligible counties. The Commonwealth, as well as any city or county in Massachusetts, also has the opportunity to apply for additional funding from $2.6 billion in competitive grant programs for states and local areas.

Estimates based on recent data indicate that 10 counties in Massachusetts would likely qualify for these formula grants, including Middlesex, Essex, Worcester, Suffolk, Bristol, Plymouth, Norfolk, Hampden, Barnstable, and Berkshire.

For example:  

  • Middlesex County, with 1,126 drug overdose deaths from 2015 to 2017, could receive as much as $12 million per year to address the crisis.
  • Essex County, with 842 drug overdose deaths from 2015 to 2017, could receive as much as $9 million per year.
  • Worcester County, with 725 drug overdose deaths from 2015 to 2017, could receive as much as $7.7 million per year.

Clinics and nonprofits in Massachusetts could also receive a share of $1 billion in annual grants. These federal grants would support organizations focused on prevention, treatment and recovery, outreach, support, and harm reduction services for people with substance use disorders and their families.  Meanwhile, state first responders, public health departments, and other stakeholders could access $500 million in discounted naloxone, the overdose reversal drug.  Finally, this legislation would make it easier to hold corporate executives at pharmaceutical companies accountable for actions that fuel the opioid crisis.

The legislation has been endorsed by 200 organizations and numerous local leaders, elected officials, and policymakers across Massachusetts. You can view the full list of endorsing organizations here.

"Today, we're calling for greater federal support to bring an end to the opioid crisis in the Commonwealth. We support Senator Elizabeth Warren's Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE Act), the most ambitious bill ever put forward in the U.S. Senate to confront the opioid epidemic... We know that this bill, if enacted, would help us get the resources we desperately need to support those in our care," wrote Sheriffs of Hampshire, Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk, Hampden, Franklin, and Dukes County. Read their full letter of support here.

"ABH applauds Senator Warren for introducing the CARE Act of 2019 and championing the fight against the opioid crisis in Massachusetts and across the country. This is a massive public health undertaking that requires energy and resources over a long term. Senator Warren has been there from the start, bringing fresh ideas and doing the hard work that is beginning to make a difference as we confront the opioid crisis on all fronts," said Vic DiGravio, President/CEO, Association for Behavioral Healthcare.  Read the full letter of support here.

"The physician, resident and medical student members of the Massachusetts Medical Society thank Sen. Warren for her leadership in recognizing that additional funding and support is needed to help our patients who face a chronic struggle with opioid misuse and substance use disorder. As physicians, we endorse evidence-based measures for prevention and treatment of opioid misuse and substance use disorder. On a daily basis, we have a first-hand view of the pressing needs for additional research, expansion of access to care and for the bolstering of the dangerously shallow pool of health care professionals trained to appropriately screen for, prevent and treat this chronic disorder as we would other crises threatening our patients' health. Sen. Warren's CARE Act considers patients, communities and populations most affected by and most at-risk to be harmed by the opioid epidemic, and, as importantly, it considers the future. The passage of the CARE Act would provide a decade's worth of funding - to increase research into treatment, expand access to care and provide training and depth to the corps of health care professionals dedicated to reducing harm and saving lives. The proposed resources would be a comprehensive investment in long-term solutions that are necessary to mitigate the effects of this chronic illness and reduce harm for future generations of patients," said Massachusetts Medical Society president Dr. Maryanne C. Bombaugh.

"The Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act sponsored by Senator Warren and Congressman Cummings offers a concrete and panoptic strategy for tackling the opioid crisis. The CARE Act not only provides resources for preventing and treating substance use disorder and overdose, it puts them where they are most needed - in our hardest hit communities. Massachusetts community health centers, which serve more than one million state residents, work on the frontlines of this public health epidemic every day. These long-term investments will help us expand critical treatment, predict and prevent patient risk for addiction, and better support individuals in their ongoing recovery," said James W. Hunt, Jr., president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.

"The CARE Act reintroduced and championed by Senator Warren and Congressman Cummings directing critical federal resources will be a game changer in beating back the opioid epidemic in Berkshire County. This intervention will allow us to provide life-saving treatment and medication to restore our community to health, enhance public safety and help our residents thrive," said Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington.

"The CARE Act promises to provide new funding and access to services - both proven and emerging - in the fight against the opioid crisis in North Adams and in cities and towns across Massachusetts and throughout the United States. These interventions will enable communities to more effectively support those battling addiction as well as the providers, caregivers, and families struggling to respond to this critical public health emergency," said North Adams Mayor Thomas W. Bernard.

"Many of us have been affected, whether through friends or family members directly or indirectly with the negative wrath of health and public safety issues...this opioid crisis has destroyed lives and families. The flood of opioids pushed into the City has strained virtually every service in the City, from public safety, as well as the care for youth, elderly and the needy. The damage inflicted by the opioid crisis to Springfield's most precious resource, its residents, has been tremendous and will take a huge effort to repair. This is why I stand proudly with Senator Warren and Congressman Cumming's CARE Act bill," said Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno.

"Opioid addiction is both a disease and a public health crisis that has hurt families and individuals from every community and walk-of-life in Central Massachusetts and across our state. The CARE Act will provide critical resources to help health centers like ours expand our capacity to respond immediately to the need for treatment and recovery support among residents of Worcester County.  Substance use disorder treatment and mental health services are saving lives. Recovery is possible, and community health centers can help," said Louis Brady, President and CEO of Family Health Center of Worcester.

"On behalf of Native American LifeLines, a Title V Urban Indian Health Program serving American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities in Baltimore and Boston, we write to express strong support for your legislation, the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act...We are gratified that the CARE Act intentionally addresses shortfalls that often leave tribal and Urban Indian communities behind," wrote Kerry Hawk Lessard and Kiros A.B. Auld, Executive Director and President of the Board of Directors of Native American LifeLines. Read the full letter of support here.

“Greater Lawrence Family Health Center is grateful to hear the news that Senators Warren and Cummings are reintroducing their CARE Act Legislation. Although the Opioid Crisis has become insurmountable at times, to address it head on with this level of funding support which mirrors the Ryan White HIV efforts will surely increase our continued efforts to support our patients and community. GLFHC currently operates one of the most robust outreach and SUD care delivery models in Essex County and will continue to enhance those programs with the proper support.  We are proud to say that our Health Center, staff, and clinicians join our colleagues throughout the Commonwealth in full support of the CARE Act legislation,” said Richard Napolitano, Senior Vice President, External Relations/Chief Development Officer, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center.

"We at Brockton Neighborhood Health Center are happy to pledge our support for the CARE Act of 2019, as we believe it will bring necessary resources to our community, and help reduce the harms and deaths associated with opioid use," wrote Allyson Pinkhover, Substance Use Services Program Manager at Brockton Neighborhood Health Center. Read the full letter of support here.

"The Town of West Bridgewtaer is proud to stand behind the CARE Act... We cannot afford to wait any longer to psas this comprehensive legislation. Resources allocated under the CARE Act will not only help save lives, they'll help change lives and future generations for the better, too," wrote David Gagne, Town Administrator of the Town of West Bridgewater. Read the full letter here.