The White House has proposed $5 billion in new federal spending to fight the opioid epidemic, funding medical research on addiction and overdose-reversal drugs.
The proposal, which includes a range of measures to tackle drug addiction, was included as part of the president's fiscal 2019 budget released Monday.
The Trump administration proposed overall funding for drug control policies of $30 billion in 2019, much of which would go toward law enforcement, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration. The proposal includes $5 billion over five years that would go toward fighting the opioid epidemic, which is responsible for most drug overdose deaths and involves overdoses from prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and illegal drugs like heroin and fentanyl.
The funding would be broken down into various approaches, with $625 million allocated to states, $100 million paid toward tracking abuse and prevention activities, and $50 million toward naloxone, a drug that revives someone who has overdosed. Proposed funding for drug courts, where people are diverted to treatment facilities rather than jails, is $20 million.
Of the funds, $50 million would go toward a media campaign to educate the public about the dangers of drug abuse. The amount is in line with a recent anti-smoking campaign called "Tips from Former Smokers" put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but is less than the $200 million level at which Congress funded a youth anti-drug campaign in 2017.
Other parts of the funding will go toward pregnant women with addictions who are in treatment programs, and toward treatment in rural areas and for American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Another $25 million would aim to test how well medications that help stave off addiction withdrawal symptoms help to reduce opioid deaths.
Separately, funding would go toward the Department of Health and Human Services to continue to carry out some of its approaches already underway, including funding research on prevention and treatment for addiction as well as new medicines people can take for chronic pain. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would receive $123 million and the CDC would receive $126 million for opioid prevention and treatment.
The Trump administration proposes, as well, that Medicare be allowed to reimburse for methadone, an opioid that eases withdrawal symptoms.
The budget from President Trump is a proposal of funding and is intended to highlight policies that reflect the administration's priorities. Congress ultimately makes decisions about spending, which the president can then sign into law.
Members have not coalesced behind a funding amount required for the opioid crisis, but New Hampshire's Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan have proposed $25 billion over two years.
The president has declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, a move that must be re-authorized every few months, and has created a commission that has made recommendations about approaches it could take. More than 42,000 people died from an opioid-related overdose in 2016, according to the CDC.