If Passed by Congress, would be the First Time Syringe Services Programs are Explicitly Funded in a Federal Appropriations Bill
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Appropriations Committee passed its FY22 Labor, Health & Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) spending bill, which allocates $69.5 million—a 435% increase from the $13 million that was allocated last year—to the CDC’s Infectious Diseases and Opioid Epidemic Program to expand access to syringe services programs. In response, Maritza Perez, Director of the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:
“This historic allocation shows that Congress is finally listening to directly impacted people and advocates like the Drug Policy Alliance and starting to reckon with this public health crisis in a way that makes sense—dedicating public health resources to increase access to care and support services—versus criminalization and other ineffective responses, which have only exacerbated the harm and cost us more lives.
“With the CDC just releasing new provisional data showing that there were over 93,000 preventable overdose deaths in 2020—a nearly 30% surge from the record numbers we saw in 2019 and increasing at an even more harrowing rate among Black and Latinx people—it is abundantly clear that the federal government’s efforts to date have been inadequate and this proposed funding couldn’t have come too soon.
“These are 93,000 of our friends, family and neighbors. Each one of their lives had value and we owe it to them to quickly pass the spending bill with this funding intact, so we can prevent further unnecessary loss of life.
“We thank House LHHS Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) for their leadership and commitment to saving lives and urge the Senate to follow suit and fully fund this program.
“We additionally thank Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) for leading a Dear Colleague letter that showed extraordinary House support for this essential funding and the commitment of House members to ending the overdose crisis.”
Syringe services and harm reduction programs effectively help prevent drug overdoses. They have the knowledge, contacts, and ability to reach people who use drugs and provide naloxone and other overdose prevention resources. They also connect people to medical care and support, including substance use disorder treatment. This funding would assist these programs in preventing and reducing overdose deaths nationwide.
This funding would also address racial disparities. From 2015 to 2018, overdose deaths among Black Americans more than doubled (by 2.2 times) and among Latinx people increased by 1.7 times while only increasing among white, non-Latinx people by 1.3 times.