Part of what the Senate (and future House) action is about is the funding that was included in the FY 2018 appropriations. The Congressional response includes several increases and provisions that add some actual dollars to address the issue. Some, like the child welfare spending increases have a dual purpose with part of the purpose being addressing increase impact of opioids use and addiction. Congress adds in an additional $1 billion to the current $500 million increase in treatment funds that was part of a two-year deal enacted in 2016. Part of this $ 1 billion is for a 15 percent set-aside for states with the highest age-adjusted mortality rate related to opioid use disorders. This is an attempt to go beyond current funding formulas that may have ignored some of the hardest-hit states as far as increased opioid addiction. Also included in this funding is a $50 million set aside for Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations. New legislation may help address recent reports that a big amount of the 2017 $500 million in funding has remained unspent because states have had difficulty in getting providers to commit to services with funding that would expire in a few months. There are also the necessary actions to make sure funds are distributed according to financial best practices and various bidding and planning requirements.
Other funding in the recent appropriations bill includes $475 million for “prevention” activities through the CDC. That generally refers to monitoring and it represents an increase of $350 million. There is also $250 million more for the National Institute on Drug Abuse for opioid research including alternate pain relief strategies. There is also $84 million through SAMSHA for Medication-Assisted Treatment (MATs) for opioids with $5 million for Tribes.
The funding for 2018 was the result of the February 9, budget deal. That deal included increases for both FY 2018 and FY 2019. It is not clear whether the FY 2019 appropriations will be exactly what happened in this year’s funding. The upcoming Senate and House bills will help shape some of those decisions.