Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly spoke on the floor of the Senate about the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the bill being considered this week, which seeks to address the opioid abuse and heroin use epidemics and includes provisions adopted from and similar to bipartisan legislation that Donnelly and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) reintroduced last year. These provisions would enhance prescribing best practices, raise public awareness, and expand access to naloxone. During the speech, Donnelly called for quick passage of CARA and shared the stories of several Hoosier families and communities that have been devastated by drug epidemics.
“While this bipartisan bill includes many important provisions that will help families in my home state of Indiana and across the nation confront this public health crisis, it will take all of us, working together, to prevent and treat addiction. Prescribers and pharmacists, law enforcement and first responders, parents and families, and officials at the federal, state, and local levels, all have a role to play.
“CARA is so important and …we need to pass this critical legislation quickly. We have an opportunity to work together, all of us, to pass a good, bipartisan bill that helps confront opioid abuse, heroin use, and other drug epidemics.”
The bill, which would provide states and local communities with tools to prevent and treat drug addiction, and support individuals in recovery, includes provisions adopted from legislation that Donnelly and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) reintroduced last year, including an effort to bring experts together to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, as well as a national awareness campaign to educate providers, patients, and the public on the dangers of prescription opioid abuse and its connection to heroin.
In addition, CARA also includes provisions to expand access to naloxone for law enforcement and first responders, similar to a program included in Donnelly and Ayotte’s legislation, and provisions to strengthen additional prevention efforts and increase access to treatment and recovery services, including initiatives for women, youth, and veterans.
Donnelly has also proposed an amendment to CARA. His measure would encourage first responder units that receive funding through a program for training law enforcement and first responders to administer naloxone to use outreach coordinators to ensure every individual who receives naloxone also receives an in-person follow-up to help them get connected with treatment or other necessary services. Indianapolis EMS recently began a similar outreach program, designed to connect overdose victims who receive naloxone with the help that they need.
Donnelly has been working for more than two years to address the opioid abuse and heroin use epidemics in Indiana and across the country. He has listened to Hoosiers, introduced bipartisan legislation, partnered with federal, state, and local officials, and brought together stakeholders. In addition to his bipartisan legislation with Senator Ayotte, Donnelly hosted a bipartisan roundtable discussion at IUPUI with U.S. Representative Susan Brooks (IN-05), Indiana and federal health officials, doctors, and pharmacists, including Dr. Adams, 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.