WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown joined U.S. Sen. Ed Markey of Massachsetts (and nine of their colleagues) today called on President Donald Trump to take immediate action on the opioid crisis and answer specific questions about the President’s overdue promise to declare the epidemic a national emergency. Brown applauded the formation of the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis and several of its recommendations, which echoed his work to combat the opioid epidemic in the Senate.
In July, the Commission provided a number of recommendations to help address the opioid crisis, including declaring a national emergency. Unfortunately, President Trump has yet to act on any of the Commission’s recommendations. In the letter sent to the White House today, the Senators ask how the administration is evaluating the emergency declaration recommendation and the steps it will take to end the opioid use disorder and overdose crisis.
“Regardless of whether you choose to declare a state of emergency, continued inaction on this issue is deeply concerning,” wrote Brown and the Senators in the letter. “In order to effectively treat this crisis with the urgency it demands, we believe you must take action immediately to expand treatment capacity, increase prevention efforts (including prescriber education initiatives), improve data sharing, and support detection and interdiction efforts to address the supply side of this epidemic – all recommendations for action proposed by the Commission you created.”
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) also signed the letter. A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
The letter calls on the White House to implement several recommendations 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Eliminating an outdated cap on the number of beds at substance abuse treatment facilities that can be covered under Medicaid.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.
Developing better fentanyl detection devices for local, state and federal law enforcement, and supporting legislation Brown is supporting to stop the flow of synthetic opioids through the U.S. Postal Service. 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.