Schumer Secured Billions in Just-Passed Spending Bill to Beat Back Growing Scourge of Opioid Drug Abuse & Trafficking By Providing More Aggressive Enforcement Measures & Increasing Treatment, Prevention & Education Efforts

BUT Schumer Warns, Without Immediate Action, Money To Stop Traffickers, Execute Prevention Campaigns, and Increase Treatment Programs Could Get Mired in Red Tape and Remain In Limbo Doing Nothing For Staten Island and NY; Opioid Crisis is National Emergency That Needs to Be Addressed ASAP—And Now We Have The Money To Do It

Schumer To Feds: Staten Island Cannot Wait For These Opioid-Fighting Funds—Move This Money Now

As the deadly opioid crisis continues to rage, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today warned that, without immediate action, New York communities, like those on Staten Island, could continue to wait on gaining access to the over $3 billion secured in the just-passed federal spending specifically aimed at fighting the opioid crisis. Earlier this year, President Trump called the opioid crisis a ‘national emergency,’ which Schumer said underscores the urgent need for these funds to be delivered to communities ASAP. Once delivered, Schumer said the already-secured funds will mean more treatment and rehab programs, more education programs, more prevention programs and more aggressive enforcement of drug trafficking in communities. Schumer today called on the feds to not delay and move these drug-fighting funds out of the coffers and into communities as soon as possible.  

Standing at Christopher’s Reason, Schumer was joined by Richmond County District Attorney Michael McMahon; Ann Marie Perrotto, CEO and Founder of Christopher’s Reason “A Beacon of Hope,” Staten Island Recovery Center; and Donna Mae DePola, President of The Resource Training & Counseling Center and Christopher’s Reason.

“Communities throughout New York, like those on Staten Island, deserve every federal resource possible to combat the growing scourge of opioid drug abuse and trafficking and it needs these resources now not later,” said Senator Schumer. “These new resources cannot be allowed to fall prey to bureaucratic delay and red tape. Countless Staten Islanders need immediate access to treatment and prevention programs, and that’s why I went to bat for New York and pushed my colleagues to include over $3 billion in funds to combat the opioid epidemic in the just-passed spending bill.

Schumer continued, “The depth of the opioid crisis requires all-hands-on-deck and an all-of-the-above approach. And these new federal funds will mean more treatment and rehab programs, more education programs, more prevention programs and more aggressive enforcement of drug trafficking However, without immediate action, I worry that these funds could sit on the desks of bureaucrats for far too long. Today, just days after the spending bill has been signed into law, I am calling on the feds to move these drug-fighting funds out of the coffers and into communities as soon as they can.”

“Christopher's Reason has been a part of this epidemic since it started, more money is more treatment and more lives can be saved.  This initiative that Senator Schumer is addressing today will start saving lives immediately, delaying money causes more deaths and less access to treatment,” said Ann Marie Perrotto, CEO & Founder of Christopher’s Reason.

District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said, “As we continue to fight against a deadly heroin and opioid epidemic, law enforcement must be equipped with the proper tools to stop major drug dealers and keep our communities safe. At the same time, more resources are needed to increase treatment and education efforts; otherwise lives will continue to be lost to addiction on Staten Island and across New York. I join Sen. Schumer in urging that these federal funds be made available immediately so that we can continue our mission to end the scourge of drug abuse.”   

Specifically, the agreement provides a $3.3 billion increase over last year’s funding levels for efforts to combat the opioid and mental health crises, including more than $2.8 billion in increases for treatment, prevention, and research for programs within the Department of Health and Human Services. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will get a $1.4 billion increase over last year; SAMHSA leads our nation’s treatment efforts to address the opioid and heroin crisis gripping communities throughout New York and the rest of the nation. In each of the last two fiscal years, New York received more than $111 million from SAMHSA block grants. These grants can go towards community efforts to equip and train first responders.

Additionally, the agreement funds nearly a $2 billion increase over last year’s levels for programs in other efforts through several departments and agencies specifically targeted to attack the opioid/heroin crisis:

·      $300 million more for Department of Justice initiatives including interdiction, enforcement, drug and mental health courts, and treatment programs. For instance, these funds can be used towards the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program, Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program, Veterans Treatment Courts, Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners Program, and Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program;

·      $350 million more for the Centers for Disease Control for preventing prescription drug overdoses;

·      $500 million more in NIH funding for targeted research on opioid addiction within the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA);

·      $415 million more to the Health Resources & Services Administration, which promotes health care in underserved communities and oversees Community Health Centers. There are 65 CHCs in New York, serving nearly 2 million patients in 2015 and employing more than 15,000 New Yorkers; and

·      $61 million more to the Department of Veterans Affairs for additional funding for treatment and prevention ($434.6 million total).

According to HHS, deaths by drug overdose are the leading cause of injury death in the United States. According to the New York City Department of Health, there were 1,374 unintentional drug overdose deaths in New York City in 2016, compared to 937 unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2015—an increase of 437. Approximately four fatal drug overdoses occurred each day in New York City last year. More than eight in ten overdose deaths involved an opioid and heroin was involved in 751 (55 percent) of all fatal overdoses in New York City in 2016. Fentanyl was involved in 44 percent of all fatal overdoses last year. In 2016, there were 116 unintentional overdoses on Staten Island; the borough had the highest rate per capita in all of New York City.  In 2015, there were 69 unintentional drug overdose deaths on Staten Island. Schumer said those numbers could have been higher if not for the use of the life-saving antidote, naloxone.

Schumer today called on the feds to do everything in their power to move these specific pots of money immediately. Schumer said, often times, bureaucracy can get in the way of moving federal funds quickly into the hands of those organizations and local programs that need them the most, however, this is a national crisis that simply cannot wait to be addressed. Schumer said the drug-fighting funds in the just-passed spending bill will mean more treatment beds for New York, more education programs, more prevention programs, and more aggressive enforcement of drug trafficking. Schumer said these are all efforts that need to be funded immediately and said the feds should cut these checks and deliver this already secured aid immediately.

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