Clark bills incorporated in passage of Congress’ opioid reform package

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), Congress’ opioid crisis response package that incorporates 3 of Congresswoman Katherine Clark’s bills. In May, the U.S. House unanimously passed Clark’s bills, the Reducing Unused Medications Act, the Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act, and Lali’s Law. The bills are aimed at reducing the amount of unused and unwanted pain medications, ensuring safe care plans for families with infants suffering from opioid exposure, and increasing access the availability of the overdose antidote Narcan. While the package passed with a bipartisan majority, Clark and other Democrats were critical of the minimal funding resources Republicans allowed in the bill. President Obama called for $1.1 billion in emergency funding to expand addiction treatment services and support overdose prevention programs. The bill passed by the House today contains only $181 million in new authorized funding.    

“Across the Commonwealth and the country, communities have been ravaged by the opioid crisis,” said Clark. “Passing this national reform package is an important step in saving lives; however, the job is not complete until Congress fully funds our nation’s response to this deadly epidemic. The opioid crisis is a national emergency that claims 78 American lives each day – this is no time for partisan obstruction. We urgently need Republicans to work with Democrats to secure the funding needed to help our communities.”

Clark also expressed disappointment that some of the amendments she introduced, which also passed the House unanimously, were not retained in the final version of the bill. Those amendments called for increased focus on youth and adolescent-specific needs, including more research on how opioids affect youths’ and adolescents’ development.

“Across Massachusetts and the nation, too many parents are desperately trying to save their child from the grip of this deadly epidemic,” said Congresswoman Clark. “Without additional prevention, screening and early intervention efforts, we will continue to miss the critical window to prevent or treat substance use disorders.”