September 21, 2018

Van Hollen: Senate Passage of Opioid Legislation Includes Important Resources for Maryland

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) applauded the Senate’s passage of the bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, which will help address this public health epidemic and the ripple effects of the crisis on children, families, and communities. In addition, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Van Hollen helped secure over $3.8 billion for Fiscal Year 2019 in legislation that was passed by Congress last week. This funding will go directly to fighting the opioid epidemic and includes:


•             $200 million for Community Health Centers to support and enhance behavioral health, mental health, or substance use disorder services

•             $150 million, an increase of $50 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers

•             $1.9 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant

•             $1.5 billion for SAMHSA’s State Opioid Response Grant, which supports important state initiatives to combat this epidemic

•             $500 million for research related to opioid addiction, development of opioid alternatives, pain management, and addiction treatment

•             $60 million for child abuse prevention and treatment programs to support the development and implementation of plans of infant safe care to improve and better-coordinate services for newborn children exposed to substances and their families or caregivers


“As Maryland and states across the country work to combat this public health crisis, they need a partner in the federal government. But we are only getting started. Together, we must keep fighting for prevention, treatment, and recovery services for individuals struggling with substance abuse and other mental health issues. We won’t stop until we’ve ended this scourge and addressed the terrible personal and economic toll that the opioid epidemic and substance abuse takes on our communities,” said Senator Van Hollen.


On Wednesday, Senator Van Hollen hosted a Public Safety Forum with local officials in Southern Maryland where he discussed federal efforts and resources to address the opioid epidemic. Senator Van Hollen also solicited feedback from the attendees, which included officials from local governments, sheriffs’ offices, fire departments, school systems, churches, and other organizations. Additionally, last Friday, Senator Van Hollen visited Maryland House Detox, the first and only freestanding, 24/7 inpatient detox center in Maryland. During his visit, the Senator spoke with the organization’s leadership about increasing resources to fight the opioid epidemic.

 Senator Van Hollen is also a cosponsor of:

·         The Medicaid Coverage for Addiction Recovery Expansion Act, which would modify an existing Medicaid exclusion to allow payments for certain residential treatment facilities to treat individuals with substance use disorders. Additionally, it would establish a new $50 million youth inpatient addiction treatment grant program to fund facilities that provide substance use disorder treatment services to underserved, at-risk Medicaid beneficiaries who are younger than 21.

·         The Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act, which would expand access to medication-assisted therapies for opioid addiction. The legislation would codify a 2016 regulation that expanded the number of patients qualified physicians could treat with life-saving medication-assisted therapies such as buprenorphine (also called Suboxone) from 100 to 275. The legislation also builds upon a pilot program established in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), signed into law in 2016, allowing non-physician qualified health practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine, making this authorization permanent and expanding the types of professionals who qualify.