DearColleague.us

Letter

 

From: The Honorable Ann M. Kuster
Sent By:
kevin.diamond@mail.house.gov

Date: 11/30/2016

Dear Colleague,

Last year we created the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic
to advocate for communities across the country that have been devastated by the heroin and opioid epidemic. To date, our Task Force includes 85 Members of Congress who passionately believe in bring much needed resources to help law enforcement, first responders,
health care professionals, mental health advocates, and others who are on the front line fighting this crisis.

Earlier this year, we were successful in passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act which made meaningful policy changes and authorized important new resources.  But that was only a start.

Today the 21st Century Cures Act represents our best opportunity to bring critical resources to our communities and save lives.  The bill authorizes a total of $1 billion including $500 million in each of Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018. These funds
are to be provided to State agencies that are on the frontlines of the opioid crisis.

The grants contained in the bill will be awarded directly to the States and are intended to supplement existing efforts funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Those
programs are broadly applicable to treatment, prevention, education, and recovery.

Cures also provides a number of improvements to SAMHSA to strengthen its functionality and effectively leverage federal resources to address substance abuse and mental health issues. This includes specific authorities to develop evidence-based innovation
programs to promote new techniques and technologies in the treatment of substance use disorder and other mental health disorders.

The bill also authorizes, for the first time, federal drug courts for low-level offenders who suffer from mental health issues and are addicted to narcotics. These courts would be empowered to provide prison diversion programs that require offenders to undergo
mandatory treatment.

Additionally, it expands the authority states and local governments have in using the Prosecution Drug Treatment Alternatives to Incarceration grant to include diverting individuals with substance use and mental health disorders to programs
for both. Current law only allows diversion to substance use disorder programs.

This bill is not perfect, but it is the result of hard work and compromise and will save lives in communities afflicted by heroin and opioids.

We strongly support the 21st Century Cures Act and ask that you vote ‘yes ‘ on this critical legislation.

 

Sincerely,

Ann McLane Kuster                           Frank C. Guinta

Member of Congress                         Member of Congress