WPRI: RI receives additional $10M to combat opioid epidemic

WPRI: RI receives additional $10M to combat opioid epidemic

By: Sarah Doiron

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation have secured a major increase in federal funds to help battle the opioid epidemic.

The state is set to receive an additional $10 million to help battle opioid addiction and abuse.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and Reps. David Cicilline and Jim Langevin joined health officials Tuesday to call for the funds to be quickly deployed to programs that can help save lives and aid in the recovery process.

“This is a disease, it should be viewed as you need help, you go and seek treatment,” Langevin said. “If you’re sick, you go to the doctor. If you break a leg, you go and get treated. The same if you have a mental health related issue. You have a substance abuse related issue, you should feel comfortable coming forward and seeking treatment.”

The Rhode Island Department of Health says 323 Rhode Islanders died of accidental drug overdoses last year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rhode Island had the ninth highest drug overdose death rate of any state in the nation in 2016.

“Tackling the opioid epidemic requires coordination and commitment at the federal, state, and local level,” Reed said. “I am working hard in the Senate to provide reinforcements in the battle against opioid addiction and we need to get these funds to the front lines where they can have the most impact and help save lives. We secured historic increases in funding, but it is still only a fraction of what is needed to confront the enormity of this challenge.”

What’s Up Newp: Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation announce $12.5 Million in opioid funding now available to Rhode Island

What’s Up Newp: Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation announce $12.5 Million in opioid funding now available to Rhode Island

By Ryan Belmore

Today, Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Congressmen Jim Langevin (D-RI) and David Cicilline (D-RI) announced in a press release a substantial increase in federal funding has been made available for Rhode Island’s fight against opioid addiction.

According to a press release issues on Tuesday, Rhode Island’s share from a grant program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will rise from $2.1 million last year to $12.55 million as a result of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, also known as the Omnibus Appropriations law.  All four members of the delegation voted for the Omnibus, which included a $3.3 billion boost this year for opioid funding, with $142 million set aside specifically for states with the highest mortality rates from overdoses.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rhode Island had the ninth highest drug overdose death rate of any state in the nation in 2016.

In the Senate, Reed and Whitehouse, along with Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) led the effort to successfully change the grant formula by setting aside funding specifically for states hardest hit by the opioid crisis.  Their bipartisan bill, the Targeted Opioid Funding Act, prioritizes federal funding for states that have been hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, including Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and West Virginia.  The bill also called for SAMHSA, which operates under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to take into account mortality rates and lack of access to treatment and services when allocating State Targeted Response Opioid Crisis Grants, rather than making grant determinations for states based on population size.‎

“This additional federal funding is much needed and long overdue.  We worked hard to change the formula to ensure the money was going where it is most needed and that Rhode Island gets its fair share of federal assistance to help save lives, improve treatment, and address this public health crisis,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies in the press release, who helped lead efforts to increase opioid funding in the Omnibus Appropriations law.  “These additional federal funds will help Rhode Island tackle opioid addiction, enhance substance abuse prevention programs, and support law enforcement efforts in vulnerable communities.”

“In Rhode Island, we face one of the highest rates of opioid deaths in the country.  The federal government has now taken that into account in providing resources for those on the front lines of this crisis.  That’s why I was proud to join my colleagues in the delegation to push for this change and deliver this increased funding for our opioid fight,” said Senator Whitehouse in the release, who co-authored the landmark bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the sweeping legislation guiding the federal response to the opioid epidemic, which was signed into law in 2016.

“This significant federal funding increase will provide Rhode Island with much-needed support in our efforts to battle the opioid overdose epidemic in our state,” said Congressman Langevin in the press release.  “Stopping this public health crisis requires a wide-ranging, multi-pronged approach, and I was proud to join my delegation colleagues to fight for this funding. I am also pleased that today the House is taking up my bill to create a joint task force to combat opioid trafficking, which would prevent dangerous drugs like fentanyl from flowing into our communities in the first place. “

“Right now, opioid overdoses are killing more Americans than car crashes.  This is a public health epidemic that demands an aggressive, comprehensive response.  That’s why it’s so important that Rhode Island will be getting more than $10 million in additional federal funding to end this crisis,” said Congressman Cicilline in the release.  “There is much more work to be done, but I know that our entire Congressional delegation will continue fighting for the resources we need.”

The funding comes via SAMSHA’s State Opioid Response Grants program, which will help states increase access to medication-assisted treatment and reduce opioid overdose related deaths through the provision of prevention, treatment, and recovery activities for those battling opioid addiction.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, 323 Rhode Islanders died of accidental drug overdoses in 2017.

Homeland Preparedness News: House committee advances opioid anti-trafficking legislation

Homeland Preparedness News: House committee advances opioid anti-trafficking legislation

Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Peter King (R-NY) recently praised the efforts of the House Committee on Homeland Security in advancing legislation designed to address opioid trafficking.

The congressmen said passage of their Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish a Joint Task Force to better coordinate the interdiction of illicit fentanyl and other opioids entering the United States.

DHS Joint Task Forces coordinate activities across the Department for border security, crisis response, and regional cooperation. Under the Langevin-King legislation, the Department would be authorized to create new task forces focused on opioid interdiction.

“The opioid crisis is devastating communities in Rhode Island and across the nation,” Langevin, a senior member of the committee, said. “We must stop the flow of overseas fentanyl into our communities, and that requires continued collaboration and integration across the Department of Homeland Security. A new Joint Task Force will provide important coordination among the DHS component agencies and between the Department and private sector partners.”

King said the action and support from the Homeland Security Committee is an important step and a recognition of Langevin’s efforts.

“I will continue to do all that I can to make sure the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act becomes law, and we stop this epidemic from destroying our communities,” he said.

The congressman referenced a report from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, highlighting synthetic opioids like fentanyl are often transported in the mail or by private parcel delivery services from overseas. McCaskill has sponsored companion legislation in the Senate.

The bill now heads to the full House for further consideration.

Homeland Preparedness News: Reps. Langevin, King, McCaskill introduce legislation to fight opioid trafficking

Homeland Preparedness News: Reps. Langevin, King, McCaskill introduce legislation to fight opioid trafficking

By Kevin Randolph

U.S. Reps. James Langevin (D-RI) and Peter King (R-NY) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) recently introduced the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act.

The bill would enable Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a Joint Task Force to improve coordination of the interdiction of illicit fentanyl and other opioids entering the United States. It encourages DHS to collaborate with private sector entities, such as parcel carriers, on creating the task force.

“The opioid emergency gripping our nation is an incredibly complex problem that requires collaboration across agencies and our private sector partners to stem the tide of this epidemic,” Langevin, a senior member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said. “Rhode Islanders and Americans across the country are looking for solutions to prevent the trafficking of these opioids and reduce the human toll of this crisis. I’m proud to join Representative King and Senator McCaskill in introducing a bill that will help the Department in its effort to track, interdict, and prevent the proliferation of these highly addictive and deadly narcotics in our communities.”

The Secretary of Homeland Security is currently authorized to create Joint Task Forces for various purposes related to securing the United States’ land and maritime borders.

The bill would expand those authorizations to allow task forces established to combat fentanyl and other opioids entering the United States.

“Joint Task Forces require agencies to put their heads together in order to make a real impact—it’s a valuable tool that can and should be brought to bear on this ongoing national public health crisis,” McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said. “Communities and families across Missouri are being ravaged, and I’ll continue to support any tool we’ve got to help address this epidemic.”

In 2016, approximately 42,000 people in the United States died due to opioid-related drug overdoses. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report studied opioid overdoses in 10 states and found that more than half of the deaths were related to illicitly produced fentanyl. Ninety percent of illegally produced fentanyl is manufactured in China.