Few issues are capable of uniting politicians like the drug crisis currently gripping Ohio, as well as the entire nation, and legislators are seeking more money and exploring new avenues to combat the issue.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA)

A release from U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) office indicates the bill authored by Portman in 2016 and recently appropriated $30 million for fiscal year 2018, is set to receive the same amount in 2019, if passed.

CARA provides funding for evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery programs for addiction, with more specific programs for postpartum women and their babies without separation.

Additionally, in March, Portman introduced CARA 2.0, which would increase funding of those programs, including its grant program for pregnant and postpartum women and their children, to $100 million.

Caring Recovery for

Infants and Babies

(CRIB) Act

Portman’s CRIB Act, if passed approved, would help newborns suffering from addiction recover in a quality care setting and provide support for families, recognizing residential pediatric recovery facilities, in addition to hospitals as providers under Medicaid.

Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act

Portman also continues to seek passage of his STOP Act,which aims to stop synthetic drugs like fentanyl from being shipped into the U.S., through digital package tracking. President Donald Trump recently threw his support behind the bill.

Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act

As part of a bipartisan group of 52 attorneys general, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine Wednesday urged Congress to pass that SOFA Act, which would allow the Drug Enforcement Administration to proactively schedule all newly modified fentanyl analogues, making these potentially deadly substances illegal as soon as they are manufactured.

“This measure would give DEA agents the tools they need to go after these back alley chemists and overseas dealers that think they can skirt the law,” DeWine said. “In Ohio we are committed to stopping the flow of opioids, getting those with substance use disorder the help they need, and ultimately saving lives.”

Latta meets with officials

U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) met Thursday with City of Toledo Chief of Police George Kral and Toledo Fire Chief Brian Byrd to discuss the threat that fentanyl presents to first responders. Multiple recent incidents in Lucas County have put first responders at risk while responding to drug overdose situations.

Defense Appropriations/Labor and Health

Appropriations

A release from Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-Ohio) office indicates the senator “fought to include $3.7 billion in the Funding to Combat Addiction in Labor/Health Appropriations Bill.” Funding would prioritize the hardest hit states, like Ohio, for treatment and prevention initiatives.

Another measure for which Brown has advocated includes $10 million to create an opioid and non-addictive alternatives research program at the Department of Defense. The project is focused on “chronic pain management as well as treatment for service-related injuries and stress, as well as developing therapies to prevent dependence on opioids and other addictive substances.”

“When it’s easier for Americans to get their hands on opioids than it is for them to access non-addictive alternatives and treatments, we have a serious problem,” Brown said. “These bills continue critical investments through traditional programs and create creative, new approaches to help solve the addiction crisis through important research already happening at the Defense Department.”

A 2016 Department of Veterans Affairs study showed veterans who receive the highest doses of opioid painkillers are twice as likely to die by suicide as those who receive lower doses, and that over the past 12 years, there has been an increase in prescriptions for opioids among veterans by more than 270 percent.

The Full-Service Community Schools in Distressed Communities Act

Brown also recently introduced a bill that would invest $45 million in community school models, which provide comprehensive academic, social and health services, in communities “hardest hit by the opioid epidemic,” particularly low-income areas. Thirty percent of the total would be set aside for rural areas.

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