Bipartisan Opioids Legislation U.S. Senator Tina Smith Helped Write Becomes Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. [10/24/18]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) helped write the bipartisan opioids legislation that the President signed into law today, which gives Minnesota and the nation the tools to combat the crisis by investing in long-term prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. 

Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Health Committee, said the legislative package includes her measure to help bring mental health professionals into schools and community-based organizations in order to better reach families who need these vital services.

“Families in rural areas, small towns and downtowns, and in Indian Country are hurting from the opioid epidemic—I want to make sure we’re doing all we can to help states and tribes tackle this crisis,” said Sen. Smith. “I’m pleased that the bipartisan opioids legislation I helped write is now law. This gives us the tools to help encourage recovery, increase resources for prevention and treatment, and make sure emergency responders have access to naloxone. I’m also proud of fighting for my effort to provide mental health services for kids in school—especially children in our rural communities—because we know our young people are feeling the effects of the opioid crisis too.”

The opioids legislation President Trump signed into law today includes a number of efforts Sen. Smith has championed, including:

  • Increasing funding for states and tribes; $1.5 billion in funding for states, tribes, and communities to bolster their prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts;
  • Improving emergency response by expanding access to opioid reversal drugs, like naloxone, for first responders;
  • Encouraging recovery by supporting states and tribes in addressing substance use disorders, establishing comprehensive opioid recovery centers, expanding access to medication-assisted treatment, and improving community support, access to health professionals, tele-health services and long-distance care, and recovery housing services;
  • Spurring the development of non-addictive alternatives for patients suffering from chronic pain.

The bill also includes Sen. Smith’s Improving Access to Mental Health Services Act, which would help behavioral and mental health professionals provide support in schools and community-based settings in order to best meet the needs of communities. These changes would especially help improve access to mental health care for children living in rural areas.