McKinley, Spanberger, Trone Urge Treasury Department to Allow States & Localities to Use American Rescue Plan Funding to Combat Opioid Epidemic

According to the CDC, U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths are Expected to Have Increased by 30 Percent from 2019 to 2020

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representatives David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV-01), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07), and David Trone (D-MD-06) today led a bipartisan effort calling on the U.S. Treasury Department to allow states to use American Rescue Plan funding to combat increases in drug overdose deaths witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, drug overdose deaths reached record levels in communities across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths in the United States are projected to have increased by 30 percent from 2019 to 2020 — and these cases rose dramatically as COVID-19 began spreading throughout American communities in the spring of 2020.

In response to this crisis, the bipartisan group of House Members pressed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to ensure that upcoming guidance will give states the flexibility they need to use American Rescue Plan funding to invest in prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts related to the growing substance abuse epidemic. In their letter, they also urged the Treasury Department to recognize the clear, direct link between the sharp spike in drug overdose deaths and the healthcare, economic, and psychological effects of the pandemic.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) estimates there were more than 90,000 overdose deaths in the 12-month period ending in September 2020,” said Spanberger, McKinley, Trone, and their colleagues. “This would be a record high and represent a nearly 30% increase over the previous 12-month period’s death toll. Most of these deaths were caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The NVSS projects that nearly every state in the country will suffer an increase in overdose deaths. In Virginia alone, overdose deaths are projected to have increased by more than 40% during the most recent 12-month period.”

Their letter continued, “Last year’s unprecedented escalation of the opioid crisis is almost certainly linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Treasury should make clear in its upcoming guidance to state and local governments that fighting the addiction crisis is an acceptable use of awards from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Fund as was intended by Congress when it passed the American Rescue Plan. Treasury should allow states, tribes, and territories to use American Rescue Plan awards to provide supplemental funding to their mental and behavioral health authorities, and work with localities to identify creative ways to support their own responses to the overdose crisis.”

The U.S. Treasury Department is tasked with providing additional guidance to state governments about acceptable uses of American Rescue Plan funds — consistent with congressional intent.

The bipartisan letter was also signed by U.S. Representatives Susan Wild (D-PA-07), Alex X. Mooney (R-WV-02), Madeleine Dean (D-PA-04), and David N. Cicilline (D-RI-01).

Click here to read the letter, and the full letter text is below.

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