Fighting the Opioid Crisis
Incarceration is not the solution when someone is experiencing substance use disorder. We must prioritize treatment, community support, and education in order to begin to solve our opioid crisis.
In January 2018, Ed introduced legislation that would expand access to medication-assisted therapies for opioid addiction, along with a bill that requires the federal government to set tangible benchmarks for how it is addressing the opioid crisis.
Many Americans still have health plans that create barriers to accessing mental health and substance misuse treatment and services. In 2015, Ed, along with Senate colleagues, urged the Department of Health and Human Services to increase consumer protections for patients seeking coverage for these services.
Too many incarcerated individuals suffer from untreated mental health and substance use disorder, and most lack access to the treatment they need. Ed introduced the CREATE Opportunities Act to create a new grant program for state and local governments to provide medically-assisted treatment (MAT) in their correctional facilities. The program would require grantees to provide more than one MAT option and to develop a plan for connecting individuals to continued treatment upon release into the community.
Ed knows that having access to treatment in the days after release from incarceration is critical in a person’s recovery efforts. That is why he introduced legislation that would prohibit states from terminating an inmate’s Medicaid coverage while they are incarcerated, a practice that often prevents individuals from accessing treatment in the critical days and weeks after release.
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We also have to tackle the source of the problem – stopping illicit fentanyl from crossing United States borders in the first place. That’s why Ed was able to pass his groundbreaking legislation, the INTERDICT Act, which equipped U.S. Customs and Border Protection with hi-tech scanning devices to detect synthetic opioids.
Opioids pose a grave threat to our nation, and Ed is committed to improving and increasing access to treatment and stopping the flow of illicit fentanyl into the U.S.