WASHINGTON—Today the National Governors Association (NGA) Chair Governor Steve Bullock and Vice Chair Governor Larry Hogan sent a letter to Senate leadership urging continued bipartisan action to combat the opioid epidemic. Addressing this crisis, which takes the lives of over 100 Americans per day, is a top priority for governors around the country.
The letter outlined key recommendations from America’s governors on tackling the crisis, several of which have been incorporated into legislation currently pending in the Senate. The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 passed by the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions committee includes the reauthorization of critical State Targeted Response grants as well as grants used to collect data and implement prevention strategies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The governors also expressed support for provisions in the Senate Finance Committee’s Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018 which requires additional guidance on non-addictive treatment options through state Medicaid programs.
“Tackling the opioid epidemic and its devastating impacts on individuals and families is something we must address together,” said NGA Health and Human Services Committee Chair Governor Kate Brown. “Governors across the country hear from families every day whose lives have been torn apart by addiction. Comprehensive, bipartisan solutions are pivotal to turn the tide on this public health crisis.”
While the governors applauded the bipartisan cooperation in Congress on tackling the opioid crisis, they encouraged further action in the Senate to enhance data sharing and coordinated care by aligning substance use disorder privacy requirements with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. They also asked Congress to further empower and support state response efforts.
“The opioid and heroin epidemic is a public health crisis that deserves our full attention from all levels of government nationwide,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “In Massachusetts, we signed into law a second major bill to fight this epidemic through increased access to treatment, education and prevention. While many governors are making great strides to increase awareness and develop similar legislation in their states, a more coordinated effort from federal, state and local officials has the potential to make a meaningful impact for people across the country.”
Read the full letter here.