CARE Act calls for billions to combat opioid crisis nationwide

Posted at 6:26 PM, Apr 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-20 18:26:32-04

Millions of dollars could be coming to Maryland to combat the opioid epidemic. Congressman Elijah Cummings and Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced opioid legislation Wednesday to provide states and local communities most in need with funding to prevent and treat substance abuse.

"Other communities know what they need and what they believe will solve their problems," Cummings said.

The Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act calls for $10 billion per year, broken down into $4 billion per year to states and territories; $2.7 billion per year to counties and cities; and $1.8 billion per year in public health surveillance, biomedical research, and improved training for health professionals.

Maryland would get $98.4 million per year and Baltimore could expect $13.7 million of that. Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen helped with the idea of the program.

“In Baltimore, we are being limited in our ability to save lives. We need specific and sustained funding, directly to local jurisdictions that are the hardest hit. Cities and counties are at the forefront of the opioid epidemic. We know what works," Wen said in a statement. 

Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties are also identified in the the report to get funding because of high overdose death rates. 

$500 million per year will also go to expand access to Naloxone, the life-saving overdose reversal drug. 

"If you were to talk to Dr. Wen, she would tell you that she has a very limited amount of this medication and every day, she has to figure out who she has to give it to," Cummings said. "We are facing a major issue in this country. 115 people are dying every day because of an overdose," Cumming said. 

He is also focused on changing the stigma around addiction. 

"People said just like with AIDS, 'Oh, it's a moral failing,' but it's a disease and we need to treat it like that," Cummings said. 

The CARE Act is based off the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program which started in 1990 and has helped more than half a million people receive services and provided life-saving support for people with HIV/AIDS.

Cummings and Warren are touring the country and holding town halls on the CARE Act. Cummings expects it to pass next session.