January 30, 2018

Udall, Heinrich Call on Trump to Follow Through on Promise to Combat Opioid Crisis, Support Senate proposal for $25 Billion in Emergency Funds

Urge Trump to ensure NM and other states with small populations and high mortality rates receive fair share of funding

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced that they are urging President Trump to support a Senate proposal to dedicate $25 billion over two years to combat the opioid epidemic in New Mexico and across the country. In a letter to the president, the senators noted that although Trump in October declared the opioid crisis a “public health emergency,” he has done little since then even as addiction is ravaging communities and claiming 142 lives per day nationwide.

The senators also asked that Trump take specific action to help ensure smaller states like New Mexico receive adequate funding. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 500 New Mexicans died of opioid overdose in 2016 alone. New Mexico ranks 12th in the nation for rate of overdoses.

"It is clear that opioid abuse does not discriminate and causes devastation among all walks of life and across most communities. New Mexico is no different," the senators wrote. "Despite the best efforts of many in our communities, this epidemic will only continue to get worse without strong governmental action, including adequate financial resources. We must address this issue now. This means making sure that significant funding for evidence-based approaches to prevention, treatment, and recovery strategies are available to the many Americans who are suffering at the hands of this epidemic."

The senators noted that while the 21st Century Cures Act provided much needed funding to help states fight the opioid epidemic, states like New Mexico – with smaller populations and higher mortality rates – have not received their fair share of funding.

"While we welcome any action to combat this crisis, this declaration falls far short of what your own commission called for and what you yourself repeatedly promised the American people," the senators continued. "Americans all across our great nation are counting on your administration, in conjunction with Congress, to lead the way on combating this epidemic…. Americans not only need but want bold action if we are going to effectively fight this epidemic."

The letter is available below and here.

Dear Mr. President,

We write today urging you to join us in supporting robust funding to address the scourging opioid epidemic sweeping our country. Specifically, we ask that you direct the White House Office of Management and Budget to send a substantial supplemental appropriations request to Congress for its consideration in any upcoming budget agreement and omnibus spending bill. We urge your support for the recent proposal by many of our Senate colleagues for an additional $25 billion to provide federal agencies the resources they need to work with states to effectively combat this devastating epidemic.

On October 26, 2017, you declared the opioid crisis a Public Health Emergency. While we welcome any action to combat this crisis, this declaration falls far short of what your own commission called for and what you yourself repeatedly promised the American people. We are encouraged to see that you extended the Public Health Emergency declaration to April 23, 2018, as there is still an urgent and growing need to effectively address the opioid epidemic. However, at the time of this letter, little to nothing has been done by your Administration to provide the resources necessary to combat this Public Health Emergency.

As you know, Senator Mitch McConnell recently committed to providing additional money to combat the opioid crisis in the next long-term spending deal. Although this development is promising, there still remains no consensus on how much money should be appropriated. Further support from your administration would help more clearly shape our way forward as we discuss possible solutions.

Every day, 142 Americans die as a result of opioid misuse and despite the best efforts of many in our communities, this epidemic will only continue to get worse without strong governmental action, including adequate financial resources. We must address this issue now. This means making sure that significant funding for evidence-based approaches to prevention, treatment, and recovery strategies are available to the many Americans who are suffering at the hands of this epidemic. We, as a nation, should step up to allocate all necessary resources to truly make a difference.

It is clear that opioid abuse does not discriminate and causes devastation among all walks of life and across most communities. New Mexico is no different. According to a recent Center for Disease Control report, 22 states and the District of Columbia still had higher than average age adjusted drug overdose rates. Unfortunately, New Mexico remains one of these states, with nearly 500 deaths in 2016 ranking 12th highest in the nation.

The 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law by former President Barack Obama on December 13, 2016, allocated money to a number of states to help combat the opioid crisis. New Mexico received $4.7 million for two fiscal years to address this now long-term epidemic in our state. Although this was a good start, the funding failed to ensure that states with smaller populations and higher mortality rates received their fair share of the resources. New Mexico and many other states are still in desperate need of increased funding to more effectively combat this crisis and ensure that those who need treatment can get it.

Americans all across our great nation are counting on your Administration, in conjunction with Congress, to lead the way on combating this epidemic. As such, we ask that you join us in supporting no less than $25 billion for two years in funding to be included in the upcoming omnibus and budget agreement. Americans not only need but want bold action if we are going to effectively fight this epidemic.

Sincerely,