In Letter to President Trump, Esty Calls on Administration to Fully Fund Response to Opioid Epidemic
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) sent a letter to President Donald Trump this afternoon calling for the administration to work with Congress to secure adequate funding to address the nation’s opioid crisis. The president announced his intent to declare the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency this morning, but that declaration will not be paired with new funding.
According to an agency spokesperson, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has approximately $57,000 in new funds available to tackle a public health emergency. Treatment and prevention advocates are concerned that the federal government may pull funding from other essential health programs to close the gap. Esty called the level of funding presently available for public health emergencies “grossly inadequate” in her letter, and argued that the president should work with members of both parties in Congress to secure additional funds as soon as possible.
“We have an opportunity to work together and show Americans that we are serious about helping the millions who are struggling with opioid addiction,” Esty said in the letter. “However, our response must be one designed to meet the needs of families first. If we fail to commit the time, trained staff, and funds to resolve this crisis, we will fail those who desperately need our help.”
Esty is a member of the bipartisan Opioid Task Force in the House, and was a leader on the bipartisan Opioid Conference Committee for the House and Senate versions of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) last year. The legislation authorized $77.9 million per year from fiscal years 2016 through 2020 and devoted funds for treatment and recovery services, alternatives to prison for nonviolent offenders, law enforcement initiatives, and programs to prevent overdose deaths and improper prescriptions. Two Esty-sponsored provisions on consumer and provider education about the risk of prescription opioid addiction were included in the final legislation.
Connecticut’s Chief Medical Examiner estimates that the state’s fatal drug overdoses could exceed 1,000 for the first time in history this year, largely due to the surge in deaths from powerful opioids like heroin and fentanyl.