October 06, 2017

During Senate Hearing, Warren Highlights New Funding for Massachusetts to Combat Opioid Epidemic

Warren Led Senate Fight for Additional Funding in Last Budget Negotiation

Video available here (YouTube)

Washington, DC - During a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) questioned Dr. Debra Houry, Director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about how new funding secured in a May budget deal has helped the CDC combat the spread of the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts and across the United States.

Earlier this year, Senator Warren led a coalition of 19 senators in a successful push to secure an additional $100 million in funding to address the opioid epidemic as part of a bipartisan deal to fund the federal government. The bill included new opioid crisis funding to address critical needs such as helping states and local communities, providing services to prevent and treat substance use disorder in underserved areas, disseminating opioid prescribing guidelines and increasing surveillance of opioid overdoses, and funding the Department of Veterans Affairs' efforts to improve its opioid abuse treatment and prevention efforts. Some of the funding secured in this deal went to the CDC to support its Overdose Prevention in States programs.

During the hearing, Senator Warren noted that the CDC's ability to track the emerging patterns of the epidemic, such as the increased role of fentanyl and other potent synthetic opioids in opioid-related overdoses, is vital to responding quickly to the ever-shifting crisis. She asked Dr. Houry how the CDC has utilized this new funding to help states combat the opioid epidemic, including emergent problems like fentanyl and carfentanil. Dr. Houry replied that with the new funding, the CDC has been able to increase the number of states receiving funding to help them monitor and prevent opioid overdoses, and also increase funding for enhanced surveillance efforts, even in states that were already receiving funding.

"I'm really glad to hear this," said Senator Warren. "This is why we fought for those funds and why we're going to keep fighting for more money for you going forward."

Massachusetts received supplemental funds as part of the CDC's Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance program, which allows states to "better track and prevent opioid-involved nonfatal and fatal overdoses" and "support medical examiners and coroners, including funds for comprehensive toxicology testing and for enhancing their surveillance activities," as well as additional funds through the CDC's Prevention for States program.