The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) congratulates the Senate this week for passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) with sweeping bipartisan support. This is an important and meaningful step in the nation’s efforts to address its prescription opioid and heroin public health crisis.
The House of Representatives passed CARA with an overwhelming 407-5 vote. The Senate followed suit with a near unanimous vote of 92-2. This bill will fund grants for treatment expansion for opioid use disorder through recovery networks, strengthen state-based prescription drug monitoring programs, and increase the availability of opioid overdose reversal drugs.
There are provisions to provide services for pregnant and postpartum women and monitor access to treatment for veterans. The legislation also requires a task force to identify best practices for pain management and encourages new research on this topic.
While NASW is pleased that Congress passed CARA and President Obama has said he will sign the bill into law, the association and social workers must continue to ensure that funding is sustained for the activities outlined in CARA. As The White House noted in its response to CARA’s passage, 78 Americans die every day from opioid overdose and states are in need of dedicated funding sources to provide adequate access to treatment and support services.
The NASW national office staff is working with a number of groups to monitor Congressional activities on this issue and advocate for appropriations. NASW is a member of the Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose, and our staff attends relevant meetings with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NASW will continue to be an active partner in facilitating approaches to mitigate the devastating impact of this epidemic.
Thank you to Congress for supporting CARA and we look forward to the president’s signature on the bill.