Today, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02), the co-chairs of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, introduced the Respond NOW Act to bolster the federal response to the opioid epidemic. The Respond NOW Act creates a $25 billion Opioid Epidemic Response Fund to provide $5 billion annually over five years targeted to numerous key activities involving such agencies as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and Health Resources & Services Administration. This bill provides tangible resources to address this devastating epidemic which is affecting Americans in states across the country.

“There is no issue more pressing in our neighborhoods than the devastation caused by the growing epidemic of opioid and drug abuse,” said Fitzpatrick. “While community groups, local government and law enforcement have undertaken the herculean challenge of addressing this issue from all its sides, it is clear there is a crucial role for Congress to play in supporting and expanding these efforts. This legislation is the next step in our fight to end the opioid epidemic and I want to thank Congresswoman Kuster for standing with me as we fight to secure additional resources for those on the front lines of this battle.”

“While we have taken important steps to address the opioid epidemic, there is much more that needs to be done to stem the spread of this crisis,” said Kuster. “Congress has an important role to play in supporting the efforts of states, cities, towns, and communities that are on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic. I’m proud of the innovative work being done in New Hampshire and I’m hopeful that we can provide more resources so that we can build on our progress in the Granite State and serve as a model across the country. The House of Representatives should move quickly on this bipartisan legislation.”

The Bipartisan Opioid Task Force has been a driver of Congressional action to take on the opioid epidemic. The Task Force successfully pushed for the inclusion of $1 billion in funding as part of the 21st Century Cures Act to address the opioid epidemic and helped pass 14 bills which were signed into law as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). Several pieces of the Task Force’s legislative agenda for 2018 have been signed into law including, the VA Prescription Data Accountability Act and the INTERDICT Act; other provisions of the agenda were included in bipartisan comprehensive opioid legislation, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), which was signed into law.