Washington, DC - Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5) today joined with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and their colleagues in the Senate and House in reintroducing the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, the most ambitious legislation ever introduced in Congress to confront the opioid and substance use epidemic. Endorsed by over 200 organizations, the CARE Act will provide state and local governments with $100 billion in federal funding over ten years, including more than $800 million per year directly to tribal governments and organizations. Massachusetts would receive an estimated $120.1 million per year in state and local formula grants under the CARE Act, with the opportunity to apply for additional competitive funding.

Originally introduced last year, the updated CARE Act of 2019 includes new provisions based on stakeholder feedback. The bill would strengthen standards for services and recovery residences and it includes a new grant program that would help workers who are at risk of or struggling with addiction to maintain or find employment while in treatment and recovery. The bill would also incentivize states to cover the full range of addiction services in state Medicaid programs.


“Too many families across our country live in fear that they will lose a loved one to an overdose,” said Representative Clark. “The CARE Act provides significant new resources for prevention, treatment, research, and innovation to fight the opioid epidemic and put Americans struggling with substance use disorder on the road to recovery. We want families to know that we hear you, we care, and we're fighting to get the help you need.”


“For too long, state and local leaders, health officials, first responders in Massachusetts have been forced to shoulder the burden of the opioid crisis for far too long,” said Senator Warren. “It’s time to confront this crisis, head on, at the federal level and provide critical support for individuals and families struggling with addiction. I have a plan for that, and I’m proud to partner with my colleagues in the Massachusetts federal delegation to reintroduce it today.”


The legislation is cosponsored by eight members of the Massachusetts federal delegation, including U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), and Bill Keating (D-Mass.)


“In Massachusetts, we know the terrible toll of the opioid epidemic all too well. But we also know that instead of giving in to despair, communities here and across the country are responding to this crisis with strength, courage, and resilience. By allocating resources and tools, Congress can build momentum in the fight against opioids and end this epidemic that has taken far too many lives. I’m proud to strongly support the CARE Act, I thank Senator Warren and Chairman Cummings for reintroducing this bill, and I urge our colleagues to join us in this effort,” said Representative McGovern.


“There is not a community in Massachusetts or the United States that remains untouched by the ongoing opioid addiction crisis. I hear about it whenever I am traveling throughout my district. From Lawrence, to Lowell, to Gardner families are in need of help. This public health emergency requires a significant and sustained federal response – not half measures or lip service. That is why I am proud to cosponsor the reintroduction of the CARE Act, which will help steer millions of dollars directly to our hardest hit communities to make sure they have the resources necessary to conduct their addiction prevention, education, treatment, and recovery work,” said Representative Trahan.

“My district, the Massachusetts 7th, is a district that is disproportionately burdened by the opioid epidemic, destabilizing households and plaguing our communities,” said Representative Pressley. “Instead of continuing the federal war on drugs that has criminalized substance use disorders, we must prioritize prevention & treatment over incarceration. I am proud to co-sponsor groundbreaking legislation like the CARE Act, which focuses on making substantial, long-term investments that our communities need to meaningfully address this horrifying epidemic.”


Life expectancy in the United States has now dropped three years in a row—and drug overdoses are the single biggest reason why. In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses—the highest rate of drug overdose deaths ever in the United States. Opioids were a cause of 47,600 of these deaths— 68% of all drug overdose deaths. Yet, only about 10% of those in need of specialty treatment for substance use disorders are able to access it.


Massachusetts has been hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis, with a rate of opioid overdose deaths that was almost twice the national average in 2017. This ongoing public health crisis in the Commonwealth has been driven by the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl, as almost 90% of available toxicology screens for opioid overdose deaths in 2018 tested positive for fentanyl.


Under the CARE Act, Massachusetts would receive an estimated $120.1 million per year in formula funding to fight substance use disorder and the opioid epidemic, including an estimated $56.6 million per year in state formula grants and estimated $63.5 million per year distributed among eligible counties. The Commonwealth, as well as any city or county in  Massachusetts, has the opportunity to apply for additional funding from a $2.6 billion competitive grant program for states and local areas.  


Estimates based on recent data indicate that 10 counties in Massachusetts would likely be eligible for these formula grants, including Middlesex, Essex, Worcester, Suffolk, Bristol, Plymouth, Norfolk, Hampden, Barnstable, and Berkshire.


For example:  

  • Middlesex County, with 1,126 drug overdose deaths from 2015 to 2017, could receive as much as $12 million per year to address the crisis.
  • Essex County, with 842 drug overdose deaths from 2015 to 2017, could receive as much as $9 million per year.
  • Worcester County, with 725 drug overdose deaths from 2015 to 2017, could receive as much as $7.7 million per year.


Clinics and nonprofits in Massachusetts could also receive a share of $1 billion in annual grants. These federal grants would support organizations focused on prevention, treatment and recovery, outreach, support, and harm reduction services for people with substance use disorders and their families.  Meanwhile, state first responders, public health departments, and other stakeholders could access $500 million in discounted naloxone, the overdose reversal drug.  Finally, this legislation includes language that would make it easier to hold corporate executives at pharmaceutical companies accountable for actions that fuel the opioid crisis.


The legislation has been endorsed by 200 organizations, including XX in Massachusetts. You can view the full list here.


"ABH applauds Senator Warren for introducing the CARE Act of 2019 and championing the fight against the opioid crisis in Massachusetts and across the country. This is a massive public health undertaking that requires energy and resources over a long term. Senator Warren has been there from the start, bringing fresh ideas and doing the hard work that is beginning to make a difference as we confront the opioid crisis on all fronts,” said Vic DiGravio, President/CEO, Association for Behavioral Health.


“The physician, resident and medical student members of the Massachusetts Medical Society thank Sen. Warren for her leadership in recognizing that additional funding and support is needed to help our patients who face a chronic struggle with opioid misuse and substance use disorder. As physicians, we endorse evidence-based measures for prevention and treatment of opioid misuse and substance use disorder. On a daily basis, we have a first-hand view of the pressing needs for additional research, expansion of access to care and for the bolstering of the dangerously shallow pool of health care professionals trained to appropriately screen for, prevent and treat this chronic disorder as we would other crises threatening our patients’ health. Sen. Warren’s CARE Act considers patients, communities and populations most affected by and most at-risk to be harmed by the opioid epidemic, and, as importantly, it considers the future. The passage of the CARE Act would provide a decade’s worth of funding - to increase research into treatment, expand access to care and provide training and depth to the corps of health care professionals dedicated to reducing harm and saving lives. The proposed resources would be a comprehensive investment in long-term solutions that are necessary to mitigate the effects of this chronic illness and reduce harm for future generations of patients,” said Massachusetts Medical Society president Dr. Maryanne C. Bombaugh.

“The Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act sponsored by Senator Warren and Congressman Cummings offers a concrete and panoptic strategy for tackling the opioid crisis. The CARE Act not only provides resources for preventing and treating substance use disorder and overdose, it puts them where they are most needed – in our hardest hit communities. Massachusetts community health centers, which serve more than one million state residents, work on the frontlines of this public health epidemic every day. These long-term investments will help us expand critical treatment, predict and prevent patient risk for addiction, and better support individuals in their ongoing recovery,” said James W. Hunt, Jr., president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.


“The CARE Act reintroduced and championed by Senator Warren and Congressman Cummings directing critical federal resources will be a game changer in beating back the opioid epidemic in Berkshire County. This intervention will allow us to provide life-saving treatment and medication to restore our community to health, enhance public safety and help our residents thrive,” said Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington.


“The CARE Act promises to provide new funding and access to services – both proven and emerging – in the fight against the opioid crisis in North Adams and in cities and towns across Massachusetts and throughout the United States. These interventions will enable communities to more effectively support those battling addiction as well as the providers, caregivers, and families struggling to respond to this critical public health emergency,” said North Adams Mayor Thomas W. Bernard.


“Many of us have been affected, whether through friends or family members directly or indirectly with the negative wrath of health and public safety issues…this opioid crisis has destroyed lives and families. The flood of opioids pushed into the City has strained virtually every service in the City, from public safety, as well as the care for youth, elderly and the needy. The damage inflicted by the opioid crisis to Springfield’s most precious resource, its residents, has been tremendous and will take a huge effort to repair. This is why I stand proudly with Senator Warren and Congressman Cumming’s CARE Act bill,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno.


“Opioid addiction is both a disease and a public health crisis that has hurt families and individuals from every community and walk-of-life in Central Massachusetts and across our state. The CARE Act will provide critical resources to help health centers like ours expand our capacity to respond immediately to the need for treatment and recovery support among residents of Worcester County.  Substance use disorder treatment and mental health services are saving lives. Recovery is possible, and community health centers can help,” said Louis Brady, President and CEO of Family Health Center of Worcester.