Brown: Opioid Emergency Declaration Overdue

Emergency Declaration would Allow More Treatment Beds, Something Brown has Pushed for with Portman

CLEVELAND, OH – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is applauding reports that Trump Administration is expected to take steps to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. Brown has worked with members of both parties to secure federal resources and address the opioid crisis in Ohio communities, which have been hit particularly hard. 

By declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency, the Trump Administration can now take important steps that Brown has called for to address the crisis, including additional funding and lifting an outdated cap on the number of beds covered by Medicaid at residential treatment facilities. Brown has a bill with U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), which would also lift the outdated cap.

“Communities across Ohio don’t need a declaration to tell them the opioid crisis is an emergency. While this is an important step, combatting the opioid epidemic requires more than words -- it requires meaningful action and investment,” said Brown.  “Law enforcement officers throughout Ohio have told me that we cannot arrest our way out of this problem.  I hope that the Administration works quickly and prudently to finally take the steps necessary to call this opioid epidemic what it is – a national emergency – and follow-up with meaningful action and investment.”

The Trump Administration’s declaration of a national emergency comes following recommendation from the Administration’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Several of the Commission’s recommendations are proposals Brown has worked on, including:

  • Eliminating an outdated cap on the number of beds at substance abuse treatment facilities that can be covered under Medicaid. Current law limits use of Medicaid funding for residential mental health or substance abuse treatment to facilities with just 16 beds or less, which prevents many Ohioans from getting the help they need. Brown has legislation with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to lift the cap so Ohioans can get care. The Commission’s report notes this is one of the quickest ways to get people into treatment.
  • Increasing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Brown has worked on legislation to expand use of MAT, which was included in the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA), which Brown supported. He has also cosponsored The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act (TREAT Act) to further expand access to this effective form of treatment.
  • Increasing access to naloxone. Brown has called on the government to boost funding to help first responders maintain a supply of naloxone and supported CARA, which authorized funding for overdose reversal drugs.
  • Providing more resources to Customs and Border Patrol to keep fentanyl out of the U.S. Brown teamed up with Senator Portman on a pair of bills to help block the flow of fentanyl to Ohio communities, the INTERDICT and STOP Acts. The STOP Act, which Brown is cosponsoring, would help USPS detect these drugs. Brown’s INTERDICT ACT provides Customs and Border agents with additional resources to screen for fentanyl safely and effectively.

Last week, Brown applauded a proposal issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reduce the production of prescription opioids by 20 percent next year. The DEA is responsible for establishing annual quotas determining the exact amount of each opioid drug that is permitted to be produced in the U.S. each year. Brown asked the agency to take this step.

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