Conference committee reaches agreement on Portman’s opioid epidemic bill, House approves bill

Legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to revamp federal efforts to curb opioid and heroin addiction and promote recovery advanced on Wednesday following an agreement that was reached by a House and Senate conference committee.

The House approved the conference report today by a vote of 407-6.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), S. 524, would ensure that federal resources are directed to evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery programs that have already been proven effective in local communities.

“(Wednesday was) a significant step forward in our collective efforts to combat this heroin and prescription drug epidemic that is tearing apart families and devastating our communities,” Portman said on Wednesday. “This measure was developed in consultation with experts, with doctors, with law enforcement, with patients in recovery, and the Obama administration as well. They all had significant input into CARA. A coalition of 200 groups strongly support this measure because they know it will make a real difference in helping Americans put their lives back together. The American people want results, not more dysfunction. I would urge all members of the House and Senate to support this conference agreement.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) noted after release of the report that “Americans are suffering” and “communities are being torn apart.”

“This epidemic deserves immediate attention. Working together, we’ve got a thoughtful and substantial solution, one that has already achieved near unanimous support in both the House and Senate, and will help every single community,” said Upton, Goodlatte, Grassley, Alexander and Hatch in a joint statement. “We are proud to welcome the support of 200 advocacy groups on the frontlines of the recovery effort. It’s time to come together, put politics aside, and get the job done. We’ve got an epidemic on our hands, and we are very close to delivering immediate help.”

Under the CARA conference agreement, $181 million in annual discretionary funding would be authorized for new programs outlined in the legislation. That amount marks a 132 percent increase in the $78 million authorization level that was approved in the Senate version of the bill. The conference report was signed by all Republican conferees.

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