Governors Applaud Passage of Bipartisan Opioids Bill

WASHINGTON—The National Governors Association (NGA) applauds the passage of H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which provides much-needed additional resources to states and communities as they continue the fight against opioids. Addressing this crisis, which takes the lives of over 100 Americans per day, is a top priority for governors across the country. NGA urges the president to sign the bill into law.

“Governors see the devastating impacts of the opioid crisis in their states every day,” said NGA Chair, Governor Steve Bullock. “I appreciate Congress focusing on this issue and look forward to the continued support as we work together to end this epidemic.”

“This comprehensive legislation provides new tools that are crucial to combating the opioid epidemic, including important measures to stop the deadly flow of illicit fentanyl into our communities,” said NGA Vice Chair, Governor Larry Hogan. “Turning the tide in this crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck effort to pursue coordinated, bipartisan solutions from states and the federal government, and this is another critical step toward that goal.”

“As governors, it is critical that we are nimble in our approach and flexible in our response to this evolving crisis,” said NGA Health and Human Services Chair, Governor Kate Brown. “This legislation will amplify states’ efforts to bend the curve on this epidemic, ensuring that those battling this addiction can connect to appropriate treatment.”

“The opioid and heroin epidemic has tragically taken lives and destroyed families and I was pleased to serve on a bipartisan commission to recommend tools that have worked here in the Commonwealth and been part of a national blueprint adopted by nearly every governor in America,” said NGA Health and Human Services Vice Chair, Governor Charlie Baker. “The Baker-Polito Administration believes the opioid epidemic should be addressed by all levels of government, and is encouraged that Congress has incorporated a number of the bipartisan commission’s recommendations into this bill which will invest nearly $10 billion in substance use prevention, treatment, training and recovery supports and expand access to medication assisted treatment to help end this public health crisis and provide critical resources for individuals struggling with addiction.”

This agreement represents significant bipartisan work to curb opioid addiction and governors are pleased that priorities they released earlier this year are included in the final package, including:

  • Reauthorization of the State Targeted Response Grants;
  • Increased availability of telehealth under Medicaid;
  • Promotion of non-addictive pain treatments;
  • Additional resources for pregnant women suffering from substance use disorder and infants suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome;
  • Improved detection of synthetic opioids like fentanyl entering the United States via mail; and
  • Addressing the Institutions of Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion, while providing essential flexibility for states.

While the opioids package does not align patient privacy protections under 42 C.F.R. Part 2 with those under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, governors look forward to working with Congress to address this needed change in the future. Additional and sustained federal support will continue to be needed as states address substance use disorder. Governors will remain fully engaged on this issue as the bill is implemented and future funding decisions are made.