February 19, 2021

Warren Joins Baldwin, Shaheen, and Colleagues in Calling for Increased Opioid and Substance Use Disorder Funding in President Biden's Budget Proposal

As COVID-19 Continues to Increase Isolation and Stress, Senators Ask President Biden to Prioritize Increased Federal Funding to Combat Addiction Crisis

Text of Letter (pdf)

Washington, D.C - Today, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), along with other Senate colleagues, in urging President Biden to request robust funding and increase the federal investment in our nation's response to the ongoing opioid and substance use disorder (SUD) epidemic. 

"Despite the strong federal investment in the past few years, the opioid and SUD epidemic continues to evolve and ravage communities across the country, and the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to exacerbate this crisis. We urge you to support robust additional funding to fully support the needs of providers and state, local, Tribal and territorial governments as they work to prevent and treat substance use disorders during this challenging time. It is essential that we commit to allocating resources to a range of evidence-based public health programs, and that we fund these efforts at a level that appropriately reflects the magnitude of this crisis," wrote the lawmakers. 

"Too few Americans with substance use disorder are able to access healthcare professionals who understand how to prevent, diagnose, and treat addiction," said Paul H. Earley, MD, President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. "In order to expand access to high-quality, evidence-based care, the United States must invest in the addiction treatment workforce, including loan repayment and provider training grant programs that incentivize more professionals to specialize in addiction treatment."

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the opioid and SUD prevention, treatment, and recovery landscape in this country. The nature of this pandemic has increased social isolation and stress while decreasing access to treatment and harm reduction resources, with significant repercussions for individuals facing addiction. Reported overdoses and deaths have spiked over the past year, even as vital federal resources were delayed despite the scale of need U.S. communities continue to experience.

In their letter, the Senators request that President Biden prioritize funding for federal grants and programs aimed at opioid and SUD prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery in his upcoming budget proposal to Congress. The Senators also request increased support for the addiction treatment provider workforce, including through existing loan repayment and training grant programs. Finally, the Senators urge the President to request robust funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) ongoing work to support and expand essential services for overdose prevention, including demonstrations for harm reduction services, as well as support for ongoing efforts at the state, local, Tribal and territorial level.

The letter was also signed by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

Senator Warren has consistently advocated for federal solutions to address the opioid epidemic:

  • In October 2020, Senator Warren published an op-ed pushing for Congress to pass her bill, the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, to end the opioid crisis and address its disproportionate impact on people of color.
  • In November 2020, Senators Warren and Ed Markey pressed the National Institutes of Health for details on opioid research programs and treatment efforts that have stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In August 2020, Senator Warren asked behavioral health and addiction treatment facilities about their actions to protect residents from COVID-19. In December 2020, Senator Warren and Representatives Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) released findings from a comprehensive survey on COVID-19 outbreaks in residential behavioral health and addiction treatment programs.