The $77.9 million Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) took a step forward today when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to advance the measure. The bill, introduced a year ago by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), is co-sponsored by 28 bipartisan lawmakers.
“This legislation will give the teachers, law enforcement officers, healthcare providers, family members and all those on the front lines of this battle the tools they need to fight back. I’m deeply grateful to everyone in the recovery community who has helped us write this legislation, and I’m pleased to see it advance to the Senate floor,” said Whitehouse in a statement.
According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, the operative word in CARA is “comprehensive.” Use of naloxone, criminal justice reform and support for law enforcement are coupled with the treatment, prevention and recovery within the provisions.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee’s action means that the Congress is not only willing to treat addiction to opioids and heroin like the chronic disease that it is, but that they are serious about allocating real resources to helping Americans in need,” said by Becky Vaughn, vice president of addictions for the National Council for Behavioral Health, in a statement today.
CARA has a great deal of support in the industry, and according to GovTrack.us, no member of Congress has expressed outright opposition to it.
If it becomes law, CARA would:
· Expand prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations.
· Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders.
· Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals with addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.
· Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications.
· Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and interventions program to expand training and resources for medication assisted treatment.
· Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs.
According to the Huffington Post, Senate Democrats indicated they will seek to attach $600 million in emergency funding when the bill hits the Senate floor.