Indianapolis, Ind. – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly called for more action to address the opioid epidemic as overdose deaths rise in Indiana. The CDC found that 1,840 people died in Indiana as a result of an overdose in 2017, an 18 percent increase compared to 2016 and 37 percent jump over 2015. Donnelly has helped lead the charge in the Senate to combat this public health crisis and highlighted several actions that can be taken to confront this epidemic including:
- bringing to the Senate floor bipartisan opioids legislation already passed out of Senate committees, including measures based on bipartisan legislation Donnelly helped introduce aimed at bringing non-opioid or non-addictive pain medications and treatments to patients more quickly;
- getting a final Farm Bill to the President that includes his provisions passed as part of the Senate legislation that would make investments in efforts aimed at fighting opioids in rural communities;
- passing his bipartisan legislation that would establish a new student loan forgiveness initiative to increase the number of providers working to treat substance use disorders and addiction—building on a successful Donnelly effort earlier this year to help recruit more professionals to address the provider shortage in underserved communities;
- and passing his legislation introduced Thursday that would require the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to track and evaluate all federally funded efforts to address the opioid epidemic to determine which programs are working effectively and which are not.
Donnelly said, “We can all agree that there is more we can do to address the opioid crisis that is tragically claiming the lives of moms and dads, sisters and brothers, and husbands and wives, and our friends and neighbors in communities across Indiana. I’m calling for the Senate to take more action to confront the opioid epidemic, because I believe there is more we can do to help save lives and combat this devastating scourge. It will take all of us working together, and I’m going to continue partnering with anyone willing to advance commonsense efforts.”
Over the last several years, Donnelly has successfully pushed for increased federal resources to combat the opioid epidemic through prevention, treatment, and recovery services:
- In April 2018, Donnelly welcomed a $10.9 million federal grant for Indiana that came through the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act that Donnelly helped enact. This was in addition to the $10.9 million in grant funding that Indiana received in April 2017 through the Donnelly supported 21st Century Cures Act.
- A number of measures that Donnelly either introduced or supported to combat the opioid abuse epidemic were included in the bipartisan government funding bill that became law in March 2018.
- The bill included funds to support the addiction treatment workforce through National Health Service Corps, which Donnelly advocated for as part of his Strengthening the Addiction Treatment Workforce Act, bipartisan legislation he introduced with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). That funding will help recruit more substance use disorder providers to serve in underserved communities.
- The bill also included $4 billion in funds to combat the epidemic through prevention, treatment and recovery programs, which Donnelly has repeatedly supported, including in February’s bipartisan budget agreement.
- In February 2018, Donnelly welcomed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) approval of Indiana’s Medicaid waiver extension application. The approval will allow Indiana to enhance HIP with up to $80 million in annual federal funding to support efforts to address the opioid crisis.
- In November 2017, Donnelly’s bipartisan bill to help address veterans’ opioid abuse was signed into law by President Trump.
- In 2016, several of Donnelly’s provisions were signed into law that would expand prevention and treatment programs.