Congress Passes Landmark Opioid Bill – the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA)

Press Release July 13, 2016
Media Contact

Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Grant Smith 202-669-6573

Washington, D.C. – Last night the U.S. Senate voted to send opioid legislation known as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) to President Obama for his signature. The U.S. House voted last week 407-5 to approve CARA. This bipartisan measure co-sponsored and championed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) and many other lawmakers advances a large number of treatment and prevention measures intended to reduce prescription opioid and heroin misuse, including evidence-based interventions for the treatment of opioid and heroin addiction and prevention of overdose deaths. This bill, however, does not provide federal funding. Republican leadership have maintained that opioid funding must be appropriated through regular order and have repeatedly pledged to fund the programs authorized in CARA this year. Advocates urge Congress to deliver on this promise.

“CARA promotes many evidence-based interventions that have the potential to more effectively address opioid and heroin dependence and save lives,” said Grant Smith, deputy director, national affairs with the Drug Policy Alliance. “Lawmakers in Congress now must deliver on promises to fully fund CARA if we are to realize its potential,” said Smith.

CARA contains many interventions but three stand out as crucial for turning the tide on the opioid and heroin crisis, provided these interventions are fully funded by Congress:

Advocates urge lawmakers to fully fund these interventions:

“A massive infusion of funding this year for medication-assisted treatment, naloxone and diversion programs by Congress is essential if we are to truly turn the tide on the opioid crisis,” said Grant Smith, deputy director, national affairs with the Drug Policy Alliance.

CARA also includes a provision that permits nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine for the first time. This change, along with a separate decision by the Obama Administration to raise next month the number of patients that a practitioner can treat with buprenorphine from 100 to 275, should improve patient access to this form of treatment.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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