WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee, released the following statement on the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 (CARA), which now heads to the president for his signature.
“Funding to combat public health crises, including the opioid and heroin addiction and abuse that has spread throughout every corner of our country, should not be held hostage to political posturing, but it has. Congress had to act. I voted for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 conference report because it sets up a reasonable framework for stemming the current wave of use and abuse. The bill will streamline coordination between federal, state and local governments working to address this epidemic and allow better sharing of best practices. It expands the popular prescription drug take-back program and access to life-saving opioid overdose reversal drugs. CARA also requires a study on the collateral consequences for individuals with convictions for nonviolent drug-related offenses, with a focus on those who have completed recovery programs and are seeking to successfully re-enter the workforce. But this legislation should not be our final word on this issue. Despite the aura of bipartisanship, Republican intransigence assured that this bill fails to back up promised support with federal funding for state-led treatment, prevention and law enforcement programs.
“I commend the Obama Administration for its recently announced policy changes that will support communities and health professionals tackle this problem head-on. Any concerted efforts to battle the scourge of prescription opioid and heroin use disorders must utilize all available resources at every level of government. Facing this challenge should go beyond law enforcement and must include sufficient funding to improve access to evidence-based treatment centers, promote prevention education methods, and provide support for those in or seeking recovery. Addiction is a disease, and treatment must therefore be our priority.”