May 09, 2019

Luján, Udall, Haaland Introduce Comprehensive CARE Act to Combat the Opioid and Substance Use Epidemic

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, and Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) in introducing the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, the most ambitious legislation ever introduced in Congress to confront the opioid and substance use epidemic. Endorsed by over 200 organizations, the CARE Act would provide state and local governments with $100 billion in federal funding over ten years, including more than $800 million per year directly to Tribal governments and organizations.

The CARE Act of 2019 includes provisions to strengthen standards for services and recovery residences and establish a new grant program that would help workers who are at risk of, or struggling with, addiction to maintain or find employment while in treatment and recovery. The bill would also incentivize states to cover the full range of addiction services in state Medicaid programs.

New Mexico has been hit especially hard by the opioid crisis, with some of the highest rates of opioid and heroin addiction and overdose deaths in the nation. According to the New Mexico Department of Health, in 2017, 2 out of 3 overdose deaths in the state involved an opioid.  

Under the CARE Act, New Mexico would receive an estimated $16.6 million per year in state formula grants to fight substance use disorder and the opioid epidemic, with the opportunity to apply for additional funding from a $1.6 billion competitive grant program. Meanwhile, the hardest-hit communities in New Mexico would receive an estimated $10.4 million in annual funding through the bill’s local formula grants. Estimates based on recent data indicate that 10 counties in New Mexico would likely be eligible for these formula grants, including Bernalillo, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Grant, Colfax, Lincoln, Santa Fe, Valencia, Taos, and Torrance. More information can be found HERE.

“The opioid crisis is changing the fabric of our state – we are losing too many of friends, neighbors, and young people to the scourge of addiction. Combatting the opioid crisis is going to take innovative solutions and decisive action, and the CARE Act will help communities get the critical resources they need – especially in rural and Native communities. The opioid crisis is a public health crisis, and we must take action now,” said Luján.

“For too long, the opioid epidemic has left its mark on too many communities – and New Mexico and Indian Country have been among the hardest hit,” said Udall. “We urgently need strong, sustained funding for evidence-based treatment and recovery services that will help individuals get on the road to recovery, especially in rural and Native communities that have been devastated by the opioid crisis. This vital legislation will funnel critical resources on the scale we really need to the frontline communities battling this deadly public health crisis, and enable them to confront it head on. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I’ll keep fighting for the resources our communities need to combat this epidemic and connect people with the help they need.”

“Our country needs to address the opioid crisis and offer services to folks suffering with addiction, but many places including New Mexico don’t have the resources to address this issue. As someone who has struggled with addiction, I know it is an illness that needs persistent treatment, and this bill will put a focus on ensuring our communities can effectively address the opioid crisis and heal,” said Haaland.

The CARE Act would provide $100 billion over ten years to fight this crisis, including:

  • $4 billion per year to states, territories, and tribal governments, including $2 billion to states with the highest levels of overdoses, $1.6 billion through competitive grants, and $400 million for tribal grants;
  • $2.7 billion per year to the hardest hit counties and cities, including $1.43 billion to counties and cities with the highest levels of overdoses, $1 billion through competitive grants, and $270 million for tribal grants;  
  • $1.7 billion per year for public health surveillance, biomedical research, and improved training for health professionals, including $700 million for the National Institutes of Health, $500 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and regional tribal epidemiology centers, and $500 million to train and provide technical assistance to professionals treating substance use disorders;
  • $1.1 billion per year to support expanded and innovative service delivery, including $500 million for public and nonprofit entities, $500 million for projects of national significance that provide treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services, $50 million to help workers with, or at risk for, substance use disorders maintain and gain employment, and $50 million to expand treatment provider capacity; and
  • $500 million per year to expand access to overdose reversal drugs (Naloxone) and provide this life-saving medicine to states for distribution to first responders, public health departments, and the public.

In addition to Udall, Luján, Haaland, Warren, and Cummings, the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and over 85 members of the House of Representatives.

The legislation has been endorsed by over 200 national, local, and Tribal organizations. The full list is available here.

The full text of the legislation is available HERE. A fact sheet is available HERE. A list of targeted programs for Tribes is available HERE

Press Contact

Lauren French (202) 225-6190