President Trump is expected to sign legislation that would make medical treatment more widely available to those who suffer from opiate addiction after a bipartisan push to tackle the nation’s growing addiction crisis on Wednesday, according to Business Insider.
After being passed by Congress earlier this month with a nearly unanimous 98-1 vote, the legislation that would open up more access to substance abuse treatment via Medicaid cracks down on mailed shipments of drugs like fentanyl and makes new federal grants available to address the crisis.
The bill would provide job training, housing assistance, and both mental and physical care for those personally battling opiate addiction.
According to the Washington Post, Congress has designated $8.5 billion in funding for opiate-related programs but has provided no promises for funding in the coming year, although Democrats have proposed a plan to commit $100 billion over the next 10 years.
“Everybody agrees we must and will do more,” Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said.
A record number of people died of drug overdoses in 2017, with 72,000 overdoses. That number is up since a CDC report in 2016 indicated there were 42,000 opiate-related deaths.
President Trump declared the opiate addiction epidemic a public health emergency last year, enabling the federal government to act more decisively about it. Democrats and some advocacy groups, however, have been critical of the administration for not doing enough.
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Patty Murray released a U.S. Government Accountability Office report on Tuesday that they felt showed the administration fell short of expectations in wake of the crisis declaration.
“Hand waving about faster paperwork and speeding up a few grants is not enough. The Trump Administration needs to do far more to stop the opioid epidemic,” Warren said in a statement.
Conway was quick to criticize the comments, saying the reaction was “predictable and unfortunately very partisan,” noting that the legislation had bipartisan support.
Conway was quick to link the legislation and Mexico, saying the administration will use the law to stop drug smuggling from Mexico across the border.
“This is part of the president’s call to secure the border as wall because in addition to the people coming through, he often talks about the drugs and poison coming through,” Conway said.
This legislation is the latest attempt to curb the crisis tearing through both red and blue states all around the country.
The administration has even proposed a vaccine that could prevent opiate addiction, according to CNBC.