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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

CARA: What’s Next?

March 17, 2016 | Addictions | Comments
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Last week, the Senate overwhelmingly approved the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524), also known as CARA. This was the first major success in the long process of turning a bill into a law.

It is a tremendous accomplishment and should be celebrated as such by advocates across the country. But the fight is not over yet. There is still much to be done to see this bill through to passage.

 

To the House of Representatives

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (H.R.953) was introduced in the House by Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Tim Ryan (D-OH). To date, it has more than 100 cosponsors, representing districts in every corner of the United States. Currently assigned to the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee, no plans have yet been announced to consider or vote on this bill. CARA must go through a three part approval process before moving on the White House: consideration and approval by the Health subcommittee, consideration and approval by the whole E&C committee and then consideration and approval by the whole House. Any remaining differences between the House and Senate versions would then be worked out by a conference committee made up of members of both chambers.

 

To the White House

Upon gaining the approval of Congress, CARA would then head to the White House for consideration by the President. President Obama has made clear his intentions to achieve substantial action in combatting the nation’s opioid abuse epidemic. In his administration’s FY2017 budget recommendations, he called for $1.1 billion in new funding to address the epidemic from every angle. Should CARA make it to the President’s desk, it is expected to be signed into law.

 

Following the Money

After both houses of Congress vote in approval and the President makes it law, that’s it, right? Not quite. Once the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act becomes law, the advocacy efforts turn toward congressional appropriators to fully fund all prevention, treatment and recovery supports the bill authorizes. During the Senate debate process, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced an amendment to infuse $600 million dollars in emergency funding to combat the epidemic. A letter is already circulating on Capitol Hill calling for appropriators to allocate greater resources to these efforts – a campaign that will continue as Congress enters the final months of this session.

The Senate passed CARA – but the journey continues on. This June 6-7 at National Council Hill Day 2016 hundreds of advocates will make the case to fully fund these important and lifesaving treatment services. Are you going to be there with them? Register for free today.