Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly announced his support for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), bipartisan legislation that would provide a series of incentives and resources to encourage states and local communities to use proven tactics to prevent and treat drug addiction and support individuals in recovery. This legislation includes a number of provisions similar to policies in the bipartisan legislation that Donnelly reintroduced with Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) in April of last year. In addition to announcing his support for CARA, Donnelly welcomed new momentum in the fight against addiction: The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing, “Attacking America’s Epidemic of Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse”, which Donnelly attended earlier today. Donnelly had previously urged the committee’s Chairman, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Ranking Member, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to hold hearings on the opioid abuse and heroin epidemics.
Donnelly, who has been working on this issue for more than two years, said, “In Indiana, we are working to make progress toward addressing the opioid abuse and heroin use epidemics, and I’m pleased the Senate Judiciary Committee is engaging on this important issue. We need to do more, and I will continue to urge my Senate colleagues to take action to stem the tide of this public health crisis that is devastating families in Indiana and across our country.”
CARA is a comprehensive bill that aims to incentivize states and local communities to pursue an array of strategies to fight addiction instead of focusing on one particular part of the problem. This legislation would create a number of programs to help address addiction by enhancing prescribing practices, increasing prevention efforts and expanding access to treatment and recovery services, including initiatives for women, youth, and veterans. CARA also includes provisions to identify and address the collateral consequences associated with addiction to help recovering addicts get their lives back on track.
Donnelly has been working to combat the opioid abuse and heroin epidemics in Indiana and across the nation. He has listened to Hoosiers, introduced bipartisan legislation, partnered with federal, state, and local officials, and brought together stakeholders. Donnelly reintroduced the bipartisan Heroin and Prescription Opioid Abuse Prevention, Education, and Enforcement Act with Ayotte in April 2015, which focuses on several key areas including enhancing training and education for prescribers; hosted a bipartisan roundtable discussion at IUPUI with U.S. Representative Susan Brooks (IN-05), Indiana and federal health officials, doctors, and pharmacists to hear a range of perspectives about best practices to help curb the opioid abuse epidemic; and made recommendations to the Governor’s Drug Task Force, providing suggestions for short- and long-term responses to Indiana’s addiction problems. Donnelly also cosponsored and helped the Senate pass the Protecting our Infants Act to help newborns suffering from opioid withdrawal and painful symptoms associated with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). The Protecting our Infants Act was signed into law by President Obama in November 2015.
Both state and federal officials are acting on some of the bipartisan policies Donnelly has advocated for, including improving prescribing practices and enhancing prescriber engagement, raising public awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin use, and better utilizing prescription drug monitoring programs at the state level.