Widespread Support Across Ohio for Portman’s Bipartisan CARA 2.0 to Increase Access to Treatment, Prevention & Bolster Fight Against Addiction Epidemic

December 14, 2020 | Portman Difference

Addiction treatment, recovery, enforcement, and prevention stakeholders across Ohio support Senator Portman’s bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 to increase the funding authorization levels for the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) programs enacted in 2016 and put in place additional policy reforms to help combat the opioid epidemic that has worsened during the coronavirus pandemicPortman introduced the legislation yesterday with Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). CARA was a bipartisan, national effort designed to ensure that federal resources were devoted to evidence-based education, treatment and recovery programs that work. In FY 2020, CARA programs were funded at $658 million.  CARA 2.0 builds on this effort by increasing the funding authorization levels and laying out new policy reforms to strengthen the federal government’s response to this crisis.

The following addiction treatment, recovery, enforcement, and prevention stakeholders across Ohio have voiced their support for the legislation:

“Cuyahoga County knows all too well the terrible toll that drug addiction can take. Every year, we lose hundreds to this epidemic. Senator Portman’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act 2.0 (CARA 2.0) is the right approach. We know that drug addiction is a disease and that individuals suffering from this disease need treatment and access to good recovery programs. The CARA 2.0 legislation will provide critical funding and support for these individuals who are our neighbors, friends and members of our community. I appreciate Senator Portman’s ongoing  dedication to finding a solution to this long-standing problem.” Armond Budish, Chief Executive of Cuyahoga County.

"Senator Portman has been a strong, long-term partner for those struggling with substance use disorder and the providers of addiction resources. Even during the COVID-19 crisis Senator Portman has kept addiction a priority by not just maintaining the original CARA Act but by improving, expanding, and removing even more hurdles with CARA 2.0 to allow for a more comprehensive approach to addiction response. CARA 2.0 is not only essential funding, education, and removes barriers, but translates into actionable steps that saves and improves the lives of those struggling with substance use disorder. As someone on the front lines that helped build a community coalition working on addiction, CARA 2.0 is vital to bringing even more of the tools needed for a collaborative community response to addiction that will without a doubt help to make a difference in even more of the lives we serve.” Chief Thomas W. Synan, Newtown Police Department, Co-Chair Hamilton County Addiction Response Coalition.

“We applaud Senator Portman for his tireless work to support Ohioans and Americans struggling with substance use disorders. His leadership on drafting CARA 2.0 is to be commended. We look forward to working with Senator Portman and members of the US Congress to ensure that CARA 2.0 provides flexible and sustainable resources to help communities meet the prevention, treatment, and recovery support needs of individuals and families throughout our state and the country.” Cheri L. Walter, Chief Executive Officer, Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities. 

“A Renewed Mind applauds Senator Portman for introducing CARA 2.0 to help provide much-needed funding for our MOM’s program that helps those in the Hancock County and surrounding area who are fighting opioid addiction. This funding makes a significant, positive impact on both present and future generations in eliminating addiction. We urge other members of Congress to support this life-saving legislation.” Matthew D. Rizzo, President and CEO, A Renewed Mind. 

“The Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services appreciates the efforts of Senator Portman and others at the federal, state and local levels to combat the ongoing addiction crisis. The CARA 2.0 legislation will provide critical funding to help local organizations heal communities and save lives.” Terri Becker, CPA, Executive Director Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services Serving Darke, Miami and Shelby Counties. 

“As the executive director of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health System (ADAMHS) for Montgomery County, I am pleased to support CARA 2.0. We are both proud and appreciative of Senator Portman’s continued leadership on efforts to fight the addiction epidemic we are experiencing at the local level and across our nation. This bipartisan legislation will provide key funding and solid policy support for our ongoing work in Montgomery County to provide life-saving services to citizens; citizens who face daily challenges with addiction and mental health issues. The duration of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a massive increase in opioid and alcohol use and resultant drug overdoses, so it is imperative that Congress pass this vital funding as soon as possible. Again, with sincere gratitude to Senator Portman for his understanding and leadership on this cogent issue, we offer our support. Please call upon us if additional data is helpful.” Helen E. Jones-Kelley, J.D. Executive Director, Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health System (ADAMHS) for Montgomery County. 

“I applaud the efforts of Senator Portman and am happy to support the proposed CARA 2.0 bill which continues to provide support for addressing the impact of addiction on individuals and families in local communities all across the country. The comprehensive approach provides a mix of policy changes; practice opportunities; and human resource development that is needed to be successful in our efforts.  COVID has challenged us all in many ways. It is imperative that we not let up on our efforts to address addiction, especially during this time of increased isolation and loss of connections. We cannot afford to lose ground on the progress we have made to date.” Precia Stubey, Director, Hancock County Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services. 

“Thank you Senator Portman for introducing CARA 2.0 to increase critical funding in communities like Fayette County to help combat the opioid epidemic. We are grateful for Senator Portman’s leadership on this bipartisan issue because CARA 2.0 will build upon local efforts that are already working here in Fayette County and provide the much-needed funding and additional policy reforms to help us fight this epidemic on the ground in our community.” Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth. 

“Thank you Senator Portman for your leadership as you continue to advocate for additional funding to assist us as we work daily to combat the opioid addiction in Ashtabula County and across Northeast Ohio. CARA 2.0 will help provide us with the critical funding and policy reforms necessary to continue to work to save lives at the local level.” Ashtabula County Commissioner Kathryn Whittington. 

“The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on our community and country’s work to address the ongoing addiction epidemic. Talbert House appreciates Senator Portman’s leadership in crafting CARA 2.0 to respond to the increasing despair and substance use.  CARA 2.0 will help provide the resources to ensure our staff is equipped with evidence based practices to provide quality prevention and treatment interventions that work and we hope this legislation will become law soon.” Neil F. Tilow,  President/CEO, Talbert House.

“CARA 2.0 would help provide the funding needed in our tri-county region as we continue to combat the opioid epidemic. The Tri County ADAMHS Board of Van Wert-Mercer-Paulding Counties appreciates Senator Portman’s leadership in light of how the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on those who are fighting addiction. This bipartisan legislation and the funding it will help provide is needed now more than ever.” Sandy Goodwin, CPA, Executive Director, Tri County ADAMHS Board of Van Wert-Mercer-Paulding Counties.

“The Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board appreciates Senator Portman’s leadership in introducing CARA 2.0 which will help us continue to fight the addiction epidemic at the local level. This bipartisan legislation will help provide key funding to ensure we can continue to accomplish our life-saving work here in Wood County. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in overdoses and opioid use, so it is imperative that Congress pass this vital funding as soon as possible.” Deanna Stanton, Executive Director, Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Service Board.

"The city of Portsmouth is grateful for Senator Portman's leadership, specifically, as it relates to the opioid epidemic. CARA 2.0 will help arm us with the funding and policy changes needed to continue our fight here in Southern Ohio by promoting and supporting prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. I would urge others who are combatting this fight at the local level to support this legislation." Lisa Roberts R.N., Public Health Nurse, Portsmouth City Health Department. 

“New options for diversion from the criminal justice system into treatment is important to Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board.  CARA 2.0, introduced by Senator Portman, supports the concept of diversion to treatment, along with additional resources for all the services on the continuum of care.  These resources will be of significant benefit to the residents of Clermont County, at a time when we are seeing needs increase, along with overdoses and suicides, connected to the pandemic.” Karen J. Scherra, Executive Director Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board. 

“Recovery housing is key to long-term sustained recovery from addiction.  Senator Portman has worked to provide federal guidance on recovery housing and now is calling for allocated resources in CARA 2.0 to fund high quality models.  As someone who operates recovery houses for women, I support this provision in CARA 2.0 and will continue to push for funding at the federal level.” Erin Helms, Director/Owner, The Woodrow Project. 

With the alarming rise in overdose fatalities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to double down in our fight against the opioid epidemic in Ohio.  Sen. Portman’s CARA 2.0  bill– with its emphasis on evidenced-based prevention, treatment, and recovery- will provide additional resources and important policy support for communities that want to fight back.” Joan Papp, MD, FACEP, Medical Director - Office of Opioid Safety, The MetroHealth Medical Center. 

“CARA 2.0 continues to ensure that communities have the resources necessary to continue prevent and treat individuals suffering from the drug epidemic.  We are in an epidemic within this pandemic and saving lives will be critical.  CARA 2.0 is a comprehensive approach that incorporates resources for medical, criminal justice, treatment, prevention and recovery partners.  We appreciate the leadership from Senator Portman to ensure that individuals and families who are impacted by opioid and other drugs are able to receive treatment and supports for their recovery.”  Elaine Georgas, Interim Executive Director, Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services Board of Lorain County.

"As a member of the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance, and as an agency that serves 104 health and human services agencies in the Columbus Region, the Human Service Chamber emphatically supports CARA 2.0 as reintroduced by Senator Portman. The resources it will provide, the research it will require, and the services it will improve will have a direct benefit on our agencies working directly with people that require treatment for addiction; it will also benefit the breadth of the sector, so many elements of which have seen the ramifications of the addiction epidemic over the last twenty years. We thank Senator Portman for continuing to be a champion in giving social workers, case workers, and clinicians the tools they need to help as many people as possible--proactively, and reactively--to overcome addiction."  Michael Corey, Executive Director, The Human Service Chamber of Franklin County.

“There are no words to express how critical Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act resources are to local communities. Ohio, my home state, was referred to by the Drug Enforcement Agency as “Ground Zero” of the opiate epidemic and that was pre-pandemic. The combined results of stay at home recommendations, soaring job lay-offs, isolation from support/recovery networks and the general despair and anxiety associated with COVID-19 have been no less than devastating for individuals struggling addiction. Our local overdose and overdose deaths have increased since the pandemic began in March. That being said, I believe in the strength and resilience of our community. Together, we will emerge from this period in history changed, stronger, but this requires continued federal investment in policy and programs addressing local communities', our country's, most vulnerable populations. Without federal resources dedicated to addiction policy, prevention, treatment and recovery supports, we write off  the tens of thousands of people who die from overdoses each year and miss the golden opportunity to break the cycle of addiction for millions of American families.” Captain Matthew Parrish, Columbus Division of Fire, Rapid Response Emergency Addiction Crisis Team (RREACT)