Drug Epidemic & Opioids
No one in the Senate has been more active in the fight against drug abuse and addiction than Senator Portman. He continues to lead the national effort to combat the opioid crisis that is devastating communities across Ohio and our country. As part of his efforts to help Ohio, Portman has worked to help stop the influx of synthetic drugs like fentanyl that are gripping the state, expand access to treatment programs that are so critical to an effective recovery, and secure additional funding for evidenced-based Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) programs focused on prevention, treatment, recovery, and first responders. In total, because of Portman’s efforts, the state of Ohio received more than $32.3 million in CARA funding and $52 million in 21st Century CURES funding.
After more than two years of legislative efforts, Portman’s bipartisan Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, legislation was signed into law in October 2018 to help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through our borders to drug traffickers here in the United States. Fentanyl—a deadly synthetic drug up to 50 times more powerful than heroin—is now killing more Ohioans per year than heroin, contributing to why drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of accidental death in the state. Fentanyl, and the even deadlier carfentanil are being shipped to the United States from countries overseas like China.
Portman led efforts to secure a key victory in the final House-Senate opioid package with the inclusion of his bipartisan Improving CARE Act to lift the Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) exclusion, which will expand Americans’ access to treatment for opioid addiction. The IMD exclusion is an arcane, decades-old policy that prohibits states from using federal Medicaid dollars to pay for treatment at residential mental health or substance abuse facilities with more than 16 beds. For Ohioans struggling with addiction and utilizing Medicaid to access treatment, there will no longer be an arbitrary cap that prevents someone from seeking care in the right setting for them. Lifting this outdated and unnecessary barrier will increase access to treatment and is a big victory for Ohio.
The landmark opioids package signed by the president in October 2018 included Portman’s bipartisan Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act and several key initiatives from his bipartisan CARA 2.0 Act.
Portman continues to tour the state meeting with those in recovery and those on the front lines dealing with the heroin and prescription epidemic.