U.S. Senator Tina Smith Says Senate Passage of Bipartisan Opioids Legislation Will Give Minnesota, Nation Tools to Combat Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. [09/17/18]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said the bipartisan opioids legislation that passed the Senate today—which Sen. Smith helped write—will give Minnesota and the nation important tools to combat an epidemic that has already claimed too many lives and decimated too many families.

Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Health Committee, said the package invests in long-term prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. It also 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.

“The opioid epidemic is urgent. It hurts families across the country—in rural areas, in small towns and downtowns, and in Indian Country. I helped write this bipartisan bill that will make sure states and tribes have increased resources to tackle this crisis,” said Sen. Smith. “This bill will make Naloxone more available so first responders and others can treat people who overdose. This bill will strengthen access to medication-assisted therapy, trauma informed care, and supports for children and families. If we take the time to really listen to people and we know that Minnesotans and Americans are in crisis, we can’t sit by while families struggle. I’m glad this bill passed the Senate, and we need to get it signed into law as soon as possible.”

“From rising numbers of children in foster care to the tragic impacts of overdoses and deaths, opioids affect all of us. This bill invests in things we know we need to tackle the opioid crisis—prevention resources, better access to treatment and more tools for first responders. I look forward to seeing it signed so we are better equipped to help communities, families, and individuals struggling with addiction,” said Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper.

The Senate-passed opioids legislation 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 package also includes Sen. Smith’s Improving Access to Mental Health Services Actwhich 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.