WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is finally releasing $26 million in grant funding to Ohio to bolster efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. The grant funding is the first batch of funding made possible by the 21st Century Cures Act, which Brown supported. More money is expected to be released next year. Earlier this month, Brown joined Senate colleagues in a letter to President Trump calling for the release of critical resources that have been designated to address the nation’s opioid epidemic.

“Ohio communities have long been asking for help to combat the opioid crisis, so I’m glad to see the resources we secured last year have finally been announced and will soon help individuals and families get the treatment they need,” said Brown. “The release of this funding is an important step, but we know that there is more work to be done. Congress and the Administration must continue to support federal treatment, prevention, and recovery efforts, and at the same time, recognize that any cuts to federal addiction resources will only set us back as we work to tackle the opioid epidemic in Ohio.”

While the bill that secured funding for the epidemic was signed into law last December, the distribution of resources was delayed, harming states like Ohio that are in critical need of additional resources. The letter also outlined the Senators’ concerns regarding the use of funding from the 21st Century Cures Act to offset cuts to other federal resources that would address opioid or substance use disorders. The Senators called on Trump to fully fund federal prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. Brown has also written to President Trump urging him not to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, which provides 900,000 Ohioans with health insurance, and more than 200,000 Ohioans rely on for their addiction treatment. 

Brown has worked to combat the scourge of opioid use in Ohio. Brown urged Governor George “Sonny” Perdue, President Trump’s nominee to serve as the Secretary of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to continue USDA’s efforts to fight the opioid epidemic in Ohio communities. USDA has helped in the fight against opioids through its Rural Development grant programs, like the Community Facilities Program—which helps rural communities expand local resources like medical facilities and public safety services. Brown also supported a strong Rural Development title in the 2014 Farm Bill to provide economic support to rural communities. 

Last month, Brown worked with his colleagues Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to introduce bipartisan legislation to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) keep the deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl, out of the country. Brown’s bill, the INTERDICT Act, would provide CBP with additional high-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect fentanyl before it enters the U.S. According to a report from the Ohio Department of Health, fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Ohio more than doubled from 503 in 2014 to 1,155 in 2015. Several state and national law enforcement organizations have endorsed Brown’s bill.

Last Congress, Brown introduced legislation that would address the opioid epidemic from prevention to recovery, filling in gaps that would help: boost prevention, improve tools for crisis response for those who fall through the cracks, expand access to treatment, and provide support for lifelong recovery. Brown supported the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), signed into law last year, which included his provision to combat drug abuse within Medicare by locking those with a history of addiction into one prescriber and one pharmacy to help mitigate the risk of prescribing opioids to at-risk patients. Brown was also a cosponsor of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act, which passed into law as part of CARA and will help provide safer and more effective pain management services to our nation’s veterans. He has also worked to expand use of medication-assisted treatment or MAT, which was included in CARA, and cosponsored The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT) Act to further increase access to this form of treatment.