Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act Authorizes Key Programs That Will Help Save Lives
Statement from Debra L. Wentz, Ph.D., President and Chief
Executive Officer, New Jersey Association of Mental Health and
On behalf of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc. (NJAMHAA), I applaud the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). We are eagerly awaiting President Obama's signature on this critical legislation, as it will expand prevention, treatment and recovery services through a number initiatives.
CARA includes authorization for: the establishment of a Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force that will examine the availability of and need for of medical alternatives to opioids; authorization of the Department of Justice to award grants to state, local, and tribal governments to provide opioid abuse services, including training of first responders to administer opioid overdose reversal drugs, as well as prevention and treatment; expansion of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA's) Opioid Safety Initiative to include all VA medical facilities; the Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act of 2016, which allows the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to award grants to support prescribing of opioid overdose reversal drugs (e.g., naloxone) for individuals who are at high risk of overdose, including those to whom opioids are prescribed; Lali's Law, which requires HHS to award grants to states that allow standing orders for opioid overdose reversal medications; and the Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Expansion and Modernization Act, which expands the types of qualifying medical providers to prescribe medications as part of opioid use disorder treatment.
All of these initiatives are critical for saving lives. We are grateful to our Congressional Delegates for their leadership in authorizing these programs as a key step to helping to ensure that individuals with substance use disorders can receive the treatment and recovery support they need and to provide opportunities to prevent these devastating illnesses for many others throughout our state and nation. The next critical action to move from the authorization of these programs to actual implementation is Congressional appropriations and NJAMHAA exhorts that full funding is enacted.