Breen presents budget amendment to expand opioid treatment access

Posted: February 23, 2017 | Appropriations and Financial Affairs, Senator Breen

$4.8 million plan would create grant to fund treatment for uninsured, MaineCare patients

AUGUSTA — Sen. Cathy Breen of Falmouth, the lead Senate Democrat on the budget-writing Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, presented an amendment to the fiscal year 2017 supplemental budget that would provide expedited, emergency funding for opioid addiction treatment.

The amendment provides $4.8 million in state and federal funds for a new Opioid Health Home grant program, which will expand access to opioid addiction treatment — including medication-assisted treatment — for uninsured Mainers, as well as MaineCare and MaineCare-eligible patients. The amendment was crafted in cooperation with the Department of Health and Human Services and Gov. Paul LePage.

“A supplemental budget is by its nature an emergency document, and there is no greater emergency in our state than the opioid addiction epidemic that is killing at least one Mainer every single day,” said Sen. Breen. “A supplemental budget thad does not address this public health crisis would be unacceptable. This amendment will pave the way to recovery for the group of Mainers most likely to go without treatment.”

“In working with the Department of Health and Human Services, we’ve come to understand and appreciate their commitment to making these funds available to providers as soon as possible,” Sen. Breen said. “While this initiative alone will not eradicate opioid addiction from our state, this collaboration with the executive branch gives me hope for our continued efforts this session.”

The Legislature recently voted unanimously to create a new Task Force to Address the Opioid Crisis in the State. The Task Force will be comprised of lawmakers and experts in the field of addiction, treatment and law enforcement, who will work together to propose comprehensive legislation to push back the tide of drug abuse and death. Its work will complement the dozens of bills already in the pipeline this year to address the drug crisis.

The Appropriations Committee is expected to issue its recommendation on Sen. Breen’s amendment, as well as the full supplemental budget, on Friday morning.