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Pettersen, Warren, Baldwin, Raskin, Kuster, Trone Reintroduce Landmark Bill to Combat Substance Use Epidemic

The CARE Act Would Allocate $125 Billion in Transformative Funding Over 10 Years to Defeat the Substance Use Crisis, Empowering Local Communities, Boosting Treatment and Recovery Services, and Supporting Research and Training

  • Press Conference 1

WASHINGTON—U.S. Representatives Brittany Pettersen (D-CO), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Ann Kuster (D-NH), and David Trone (D-MD), alongside U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) reintroduced the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, the most ambitious legislation ever introduced in Congress to confront the substance use epidemic. The CARE Act would provide state and local governments with $125 billion in federal funding over ten years, including nearly $1 billion per year directly to tribal governments and organizations. 

“Families across Colorado and the nation have been deeply impacted by the opioid epidemic, including my own. My mom suffered with a prescription opioid addiction that led to heroin and lasted for decades, until she finally got the help she desperately needed. She has been in recovery for over six years and is an example of what's possible, but there are far too many who aren’t as lucky,” said Rep. Pettersen. “I’m proud to partner with my colleagues on this bold legislation, which will ensure people struggling with substance use disorders can access the treatment and recovery services they need, as well as give our local and state partners the tools to prevent these incidents in the first place and save lives.”

“The substance use disorder crisis has affected communities big and small, urban and rural, all across our country – and state and local leaders and first responders have had to manage this crisis without enough help from the federal government,” said Senator Warren. “We learned from the fight to end the HIV/AIDS crisis that supporting local decision-making and expanding access to treatment and recovery services is powerfully important, and the CARE Act draws from these lessons to deliver billions in transformational federal resources that communities can use to tackle this public health crisis head-on.”

“Millions of families like mine have watched their loved ones struggle with substance use disorder, and too often, seen their family, friends, and neighbors lose their lives to overdose or poisoning. We can and must do more to stop the opioid and fentanyl epidemic in its tracks and save lives,” said Senator Baldwin. “The CARE Act gives states and local communities the resources they need to expand substance use prevention, treatment, research, and education to address this crisis head on and help Wisconsinites in need.” 

“Today, I’m proud to reintroduce the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency Act, originally authored by our beloved former Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, and to carry on his fight against the substance use and mental health crises devastating families across the country,” said Rep. Raskin. “Substance use disorder touches nearly every family and certainly every community in America, with drug overdose deaths surpassing 100,000 annually. By providing urgently needed resources for communities on the ground to prevent substance use disorder before it begins and to strengthen essential services for people suffering, Congress can address this crisis head on and make sustained, life-saving progress for our people.”

“Every life lost to substance use disorder is a tragedy – we can and must do more to address the addiction and mental health crisis and ensure our communities have the tools and support they need,” said Rep. Kuster. “I am proud to help introduce the CARE Act to invest in substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and research and strengthen our federal response to this epidemic. Together, we can help save lives.”

“The opioid epidemic has taken hold of communities in every corner of the country.  Even still, the treatment between substance use disorder and other diseases such as cancer couldn’t be more different,” said Rep. Trone. “The CARE Act meets the moment by providing crucial funding to not only treat addiction but also prevent the disease in the first place. We must achieve parity in how we treat addiction in America. This bill is a step in the right direction.” 

Inspired by her own mother’s struggle, this bill is just the latest in Pettersen’s ongoing efforts to address the drug epidemic in the United States. These include measures to prevent the import of illicit drugs, crack down on drug traffickers and their financing operations, and prevent overdose deaths by ensuring airplaneslaw enforcement, and hospitals are able to distribute naloxone when necessary.

According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that more than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses between June 2022 and June 2023, an increase of more than 20 percent over the previous year. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 48 million people reported suffering from substance use disorder in the past year. Despite the critical need for substance use disorder services, only about 24% of those in need of treatment for substance actually received it.

This is not the first time the United States has faced a public health crisis of this scale. During the 1980s and 1990s, deaths from HIV/AIDS grew rapidly and the country faced a public health crisis – the medical system was ill-equipped to provide effective, evidence-based care. In 1990, Congress passed the bipartisan Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act (Ryan White Act) to provide funding to help state and local governments, and community-based organizations, combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The CARE Act is modeled directly on the Ryan White Act, supporting local decision-making and programs to expand access to evidence-based treatments and recovery support services. The CARE Act also recognizes the need for expanded mental health supports, early intervention, and harm reduction tactics.

The CARE Act would provide $125 billion over ten years to fight this crisis, including:

  • $4.6 billion per year to states, territories, and tribal governments, including $2.3 billion to states with the highest levels of overdoses and $1.84 billion through competitive grants. 
  • $3.3 billion per year to the hardest hit counties and cities, including $1.75 billion to counties and cities with the highest levels of overdoses and $1.22 billion through competitive grants. 
  • $2 billion per year for public health surveillance, biomedical research, and improved training for health professionals, including $1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $500 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and regional tribal epidemiology centers, and $500 million to train and provide technical assistance to professionals treating substance use disorders;
  • $1.6 billion per year to support expanded and innovative service delivery, including $1 billion for public and nonprofit entities, $500 million for projects of national significance that provide treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services, $50 million to help workers with or at risk for substance use disorders maintain and gain employment, and $50 million to expand treatment provider capacity; and
  • $1 billion per year to expand access to overdose reversal drugs and provide this life-saving medicine to states for distribution to first responders, public health departments, and the public.

Of the total funding, the CARE Act would invest nearly $1 billion a year provided directly to tribal governments and organizations, including:

  • $790 million per year for grants to tribal governments to help fight this crisis and invest in substance use prevention and treatment;
  • $7.5 million in additional funding for tribal nations and regional tribal epidemiology centers to improve data collection on overdoses;
  • 50 million a year to Tribal Colleges and Universities, Indian Health Service-funded organizations, and medical training programs that partner with tribal nations and tribal organizations to train Native health professionals to improve substance use disorder treatment services;
  • $150 million a year in funding to Native non-profits and clinics, including to urban Indian organizations, Native Hawaiian organizations, and projects designed to test innovative service delivery and culturally-informed care models to tackle addiction; and
  • $1 billion per year to expand access to the overdose reversal drug Naloxone and provide this life-saving medicine to states to distribute to tribal nations, first responders, public health departments, and the public.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and 73 members of the House of Representatives.

The full list of co-sponsors in the House of Representatives includes: Balint (D-Vt.), Barragan (D-Calif.), Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Bonamici (D-Ore.), Bowman (D-N.Y.), Brown (D-Ohio), Brownley (D-Calif.), Bush (D-Mo.), Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Carson (D-Ind.), Casar (D-Texas), Chu (D-Calif.), Connolly (D-Va.), Crockett (D-Texas), Cuellar (D-Texas), Davis (D-Ill.), Dean (D-Pa.), DeGette (D-Colo.), Dingell (D-Mich.), Escobar (D-Texas), Frost (D-Fla.), García (D-Ill.), Garcia (D-Calif.), Garcia (D-Texas), Goldman (D-N.Y.), Gomez (D-Calif.), Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Hayes (D-Conn.), Huffman (D-Calif.), Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Jayapal (D-Wash.), Johnson (D-Ga.), Kelly (D-Ill.), Khanna (D-Calif.), Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Larson (D-Conn.), Lee (D-Calif.), Lee (D-Pa.), Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), Lieu (D-Calif.), Lynch (D-Mass.), Matsui (D-Calif.), McCollum (D-Minn.), McGovern (D-Mass.), Meeks (D-N.Y.), Meng (D-N.Y.), Mfume (D-Md.), Moore (D-Wis.), Morelle (D-N.Y.), Moulton (D-Mass.), Nadler (D-N.Y.), Neguse (D-Colo.), Norton (D- D.C.), Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Omar (D-Minn.), Panetta (D-Calif.), Pingree (D-Maine), Pocan (D-Wis.), Porter (D-Calif.), Pressley (D-Mass.), Ross (D-N.C.), Sanchez (D-Calif.), Sarbanes (D-Md.), Scanlon (D-Pa.), Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Schiff (D-Calif.), Spanberger (D-Va.), Stansbury (D-N.M.), Titus (D-Nev.), Tlaib (D-Mich.), Tokuda (D-Hawaii), Tonko (D-N.Y.), Torres (D-N.Y.), Trahan (D-Mass.), Underwood (D-Ill.), Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Williams (D-Ga.).