Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander Wednesday announced Tennessee will receive a nearly $14 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services in the state’s fight against the opioid crisis. The state received nearly $14 million last year as well – both grants were funded by the 21st Century Cures Act that Senator Alexander authored and President Obama signed into law in 2016.
“The devastation of the opioid crisis has touched nearly every community in our state, and today’s announcement – that Tennessee is set to receive another nearly $14 million to fight its ongoing opioid epidemic – will provide a major boost to Tennesseans on the front lines of a battle that is being waged county by county and doctor’s office by doctor’s office,” Senator Alexander said. “Leader McConnell called the 21st Century Cures ‘the most important legislation of the year,’ and this funding is just another example of the real help this bill is delivering to Tennessee families.”
The 21st Century Cures Act that was signed into law in December of 2016 by President Obama provided $1 billion in grants to states to help fight the opioid epidemic. Senator Alexander was the chief Senate sponsor of the 21st Century Cures Act. Last April, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the first round of funding to be delivered to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and six U.S. territories – of which Tennessee received $14 million. Today, Secretary Azar released the second year of funding –—which is $485 million in total – and Tennessee again received $14 million. States can use the federal grants to improve prescription drug monitoring programs, implement prevention activities, and train health care providers on overdose prevention and recognizing potential cases of substance abuse. An additional $1 billion was also funded in this year’s government spending bill, and the additional funding will be available starting September 2018.
Senator Alexander this week introduced bipartisan legislation – the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 – with Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that includes 40 proposals to help bring an end to the opioid crisis. Senator Alexander announced the Senate health committee will consider and vote on the legislation on Tuesday. The legislation would extend authorization for the Opioid State Targeted Response grants – like the one Tennessee is receiving today -- for the next three years. More information on the legislation is available here.