Opioid Crisis Legislation

Letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer regarding passage of legislation geared toward combatting the opioid epidemic.

Full text

August 16, 2018

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:

On behalf of the nation’s governors, we write to thank you for the Senate’s continued efforts to end the opioid crisis and urge swift passage of legislation supportive of state and local efforts.

In combatting the nation’s opioid crisis, governors work every day to confront the devastating effects of this epidemic. Federal support through key legislation, like the 21st Century Cures Act, Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus bill, have helped strengthen states’ abilities to respond and save lives. Governors will continue to fight on the frontlines of this epidemic by providing comprehensive solutions for individuals and families coping with and recovering from substance use disorder, and we appreciate the support of Congress in fighting and ending this battle.

In January, the governors announced federal recommendations outlining principles critical for state-federal cooperation in overcoming the opioid crisis. These recommendations include: federal support and coordination, data and information sharing, prevention and early intervention, treatment and recovery and enhancing support for public safety. These recommendations are attached in their entirety for your information.

Governors acknowledge the Senate for its effort to confront this epidemic through bipartisan cooperation and appreciate that legislation proposed by committees of jurisdiction incorporate several of our recommendations. Specifically, governors are pleased to see that the reauthorization of State Targeted Response grants is included in legislation advanced by the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee. The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 also authorized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide critical state grants to collect data and implement prevention strategies, which is a priority for our states. Additionally, governors are supportive of several principles included in the Senate Finance Committee’s Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018 including requiring additional guidance on non-addictive treatment options through state Medicaid programs and expanding efforts to strengthen the availability of telehealth in Medicaid. In addition, we were pleased to see the Senate Finance Committee advance the STOP Act of 2018 and urge further consideration by the Senate. Governors also ask that Congress strengthen provider education efforts utilizing evidence-based pain management and substance use disorder training.

Earlier this summer, governors were encouraged that the House of Representatives incorporated several of our recommendations in bills advancing to the Senate, including important efforts to encourage non-opioid alternatives for pain; improve education, surveillance and treatment of injection drug-use associated infections; expand access to telehealth and align privacy requirements in 42 CFR Part 2 with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Collaboration between the federal government and states is essential to reducing the gripping impact of opioids on our nation. We thank Congress for its bipartisan efforts, and for supporting states in bringing relief to American families by ending this national crisis. The governors urge continued bipartisan action on this critical issue and look forward to seeing legislation move forward to law.

Governor Steve Bullock
National Governors Association

Governor Larry Hogan
Vice Chair
National Governors Association

Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance
Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions