WASHINGTON, DC -- Congress passed a comprehensive bipartisan federal funding package last week for the remainder of 2022, containing critical funding for programs across the country. The legislation includes programs that Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-05) advocated for to save lives and combat the nation's historic drug overdose rates through bolstered funding for law enforcement, treatment and prevention.
Nearly 2,000 Kentuckians died as a result of opioid overdoses in 2020, the highest number in state history, according to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.
"Over the last two years, we not only lost a heartbreaking number of individuals to COVID-related deaths, we lost a record number of Kentuckians to opioid overdoses," said Congressman Rogers, co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse. "Operation UNITE has a track-record of success in our region, not only supporting police efforts to keep drugs off the streets, but also offering free treatment opportunities and educating our students about the dangers of drug abuse. We must continue to be diligent in our efforts to prevent drug abuse and save lives here at home and across the country."
Congressman Rogers secured a $500,000 Community Project Funding earmark for Operation UNITE to continue drug abuse prevention efforts across southern and eastern Kentucky. The non-profit organization provides educational drug-abuse prevention activities to more than 50,000 students in Kentucky's Appalachian region every year. Congressman Rogers founded Operation UNITE in 2003 to address a historic rise in prescription painkiller overdoses in Kentucky's Fifth Congressional District.
"We appreciate this important investment, which will help Operation UNITE continue to create generational change - impacting the health, well-being, and trajectory of entire families," said Nancy Hale, President/CEO of Operation UNITE. "Our grassroots county coalitions and school education programs touch the youngest of children as we work to prevent drug use, impact older children and adults who need treatment, and benefit grandparents who are serving as caregivers or facing addiction themselves."
In addition to funding for Operation UNITE, the legislation provides comprehensive support for local, state, regional and federal efforts to combat the opioid crisis, including:
Funding for Drug Enforcement and Criminal Justice Activities
The bill includes significant increases in law enforcement, prosecution agencies and grant resources for state and local criminal justice entities.
$550.5 million is provided for Interagency Crime and Drug Enforcement, and the bill provides $296.6 million for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program to assist federal, state, and local authorities clean up trafficking hot spots, which will enable the Appalachian HIDTA to continue its work in southern and eastern Kentucky.
For Drug Courts, the bill includes $158 million for the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help non-violent offenders struggling with addiction. An additional $29 million is included for Veterans Treatment Courts to help our men and women in uniform who are struggling with addiction.
The bill also includes $194 million for the National Guard Counter-Drug program. The Kentucky National Guard Counter-Drug program is among the best in the nation and has eradicated millions of dollars of illegal drugs.
Byrne Justice Assistance Grants are funded at $674.5 million, which will support all components of the criminal justice system, including drug and gang task forces, domestic violence programs, treatment, and justice information sharing. Overall, it will help keep Kentucky safe.
Funding for Treatment, Prevention, Recovery and Research
The bill provides significant funding for substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery, as well as research into alternative therapies for pain management.
Most notably, $6.5 billion is provided for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a large percentage of which will be deployed to states for on-the-ground treatment and recovery services. The bill also provides $24 million for the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery (STAR) Loan Forgiveness program, championed by Congressman Rogers, to help increase the number of qualified treatment professionals in rural, underserved communities. This program offers student loan repayment of up to $250,000 for students who agree to work as a substance use disorder treatment professional in areas most in need of their services. The bill also appropriates more than $490.5 million for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to continue its Opioid Overdose Prevention and Surveillance program, and $135 million for Rural Communities Opioid Response.
The legislation provides $33 million to implement and enhance Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), which help doctors make good prescribing decisions and investigators root out bad actors.
$106 million in funding for the Drug Free Communities Program, which provides funding to community-based groups seeking to prevent youth substance abuse.
To support those in their journey to overcome addiction, $13 million is provided specifically for Building Communities of Recovery, $10 million is provided for Treatment, Recovery and Workforce Support to help people live independently and participate in the workforce, and $5 million is provided for Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers.
The National Institute for Health (NIH) is slated to receive a $45 billion to conduct life-saving research, including $541 million for research related to opioids through the HEAL Initiative.
In April, Congressman Rogers will be one of the keynote speakers at the 2022 National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit co-hosted annually by Operation UNITE. Since 2012, the summit has risen as the premier conference for community advocates, government officials, as well as public and private entities. Four U.S. Presidents and other government leaders have provided keynote remarks for the summit's nearly 5,000 attendees. For more information, visit https://rx-summit.com.
For more information about Congressman Rogers' work in Washington and at home in Kentucky, visit https://halrogers.house.gov or follow him on social media.