Senator Jeanne Shaheen is calling for an additional $600 million in emergency federal funding to tackle opioid and heroin misuse across the country — and she says, as in previous public health crises, the federal government needs to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to this issue.
“We’re really looking at, how can we have a coordinated effort? The federal government did that in fighting Ebola. They’ve done that in other health emergencies,” Shaheen said. “We’re saying that this is a health emergency, and we need to ramp in the same way to fight it on all fronts.”
Shaheen’s funding bill, which won’t be formally introduced until the Senate is back in session after the Thanksgiving holiday, would provide extra appropriations for several grant programs in the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services.
The legislation would provide extra money to local police departments, recovery support services, prevention programs, addiction researchers, prescription drug monitoring, among other areas. New Hampshire participates in several of the programs that would be eligible for the boost in funding under Shaheen's proposal.
In an effort to underscore the urgency of the issue, Shaheen also wrote directly to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell asking her to support the calls for additional funding and other efforts to “address this public health emergency.”
Shaheen said she plans to continue trying to build support for this additional funding in Congress as the appropriations process continues.
“I think we need a massive, federal effort to support what’s happening in states and local communities, and we need to be supporting those programs that are making a difference to fight substance abuse,” Shaheen said.