Opioid bill sponsored by Shaheen, Ayotte heads to president’s desk

Monitor staff
Thursday, July 14, 2016

Legislation that increases support for addiction treatment and recovery services is headed to President Obama’s desk, and it is expected he will sign it.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act is co-sponsored by New Hampshire’s U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, and cleared the chamber in a 92-2 vote Wednesday. The House already approved the bill.

But Shaheen warned Wednesday that the bill as written won’t send money quickly enough to communities. She said the wait could be as along as two years, and the Democrat called on the Republican-led Senate to pass an emergency funding provision she filed earlier this year.

“CARA is good legislation but without funding, it’s like a life preserver with no air in it,” Shaheen said in a statement. “As any police officer or treatment provider in New Hampshire can tell you, they desperately need resources today.”

Ayotte said while she supports emergency funding, CARA is an “important step forward” that sets a solid policy framework. The bill would expand medically assisted treatment, used to wean people off heroin or other opioids, Ayotte said. And it would set up national prevention efforts.

CARA authorizes an additional $181 million in spending, but a later appropriations bill is needed to fund it, Ayotte said. This year’s federal funding for treatment, prevention and recovery already went out the door, she said, and amounted to roughly $100 million more than the previous year.