May 03, 2018

Manchin Unveils New Analysis Showing Economic Impact of Opioid Crisis in West Virginia

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released a new report on the economic impact of the opioid crisis in West Virginia. The analysis, modeled after a national analysis conducted by the Council for Economic Advisers, found that in 2016 alone the opioid crisis cost West Virginia over $8.72 billion in fatalities, health care spending, addiction treatment, criminal justice, and lost productivity.

The largest economic impact of the crisis in West Virginia was opioid-related fatalities, which cost the state $8.149 billion in 2016. Opioid-related deaths in West Virginia have doubled over the past 10 years and quadrupled over the past 16 years. For more on the cost of the opioid crisis in West Virginia see the analysis here.

“The opioid epidemic is taking countless lives and bankrupting families, communities and our state. This data shows that not only is this crisis a public health emergency but it’s an economic one. We have truly reached a crisis point and we need all hands on deck in order to fight this epidemic together. Last week, the Senate HELP Committee passed a comprehensive bill that will help us mitigate the damage and fund substance use disorder treatment centers and other efforts to stop illicit opioid use, reduce overdose deaths and help recovering addicts reenter society. This bill doesn’t include everything though and when it comes to the floor, I’ll be fighting to include my LifeBOAT Act to set up a permanent funding stream for treatment centers. We need significant funding increases and programs that the state can use in order to start reversing this damage,” Senator Manchin said.

This new analysis was released as the Senate Health Committee voted last week to pass the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. This legislation now heads to the full Senate for consideration. Senator Manchin’s provisions included in the bill that will help relieve the economic burden are:

  • Opioid Funding for hard hit states: Reauthorizes and makes improvements to the State Targeted Opioid Response (STR) program to help states better fight the opioid epidemic, including updates to the formula. Similar to the Opioid Response Enhancement Act (S. 2437) and Targeted Opioid Funding Act (S. 2125) which Senator Manchin has cosponsored.
  • Improving Access to Treatment and Recovery: The bill establishes a grant program to create comprehensive opioid recovery centers in hard hit communities.
    • Senator Manchin introduced the LifeBOAT Act to establish a funding stream to fund efforts to provide and expand access to substance use disorder treatment and recovery. To pay for this treatment, this bill would establish a 1 cent fee on each milligram of opioid in a pain pill. Including the LifeBOAT Act would strengthen the bill’s efforts to improve access to recovery services.
  • Improving FDA Response to the Opioid Crisis: Strengthens the FDA’s response to the crisis in several ways including by supporting the development of non-opioid pain treatments and by pushing the agency to do more to consider the risks of drugs that may be misused or abused.
    • Senator Manchin has pushed for research funding for non-opioid pain treatments through NIH, the VA, and other federal agencies.
    • Senator Manchin sent a letter to the FDA urging them to review all opioid medications to take into account the public health risks of these dangerous drugs.
  • Examining Opioid Prescription Limits: Requires the Secretary of HHS to issue a report on limiting opioid prescriptions.
    • Senator Manchin is a cosponsor of the Opioid Addiction Prevention Act of 2017 (S. 892), which would limit initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain to no more than 7 days.
  • Improving Youth Prevention and Recovery Services: Includes grant funding to strengthen youth prevention and recovery services, particularly in schools.
    • Senator Manchin has pushed for increased education on the dangers of opioids, particularly for youth. His successful amendment to CARA targeted resources to consumer education and his successful amendment to the Every Student Succeeds Act ensured that schools could use federal education funds to support students dealing with substance abuse. He has strongly supported funding mental healthcare and counseling services in schools and through after school programs.
  • Consumer and Provider Education: Advance awareness of the risks of opioid misuse and abuse by strengthening CDC’s efforts to educate consumers and providers.
    • Senator Manchin’s successful amendment to CARA targeted resources to consumer education. 
    • Senator Manchin is a cosponsor of the Safer Prescribing of Controlled Substances Act (S. 1554), which would go much farther than this draft bill by requiring physicians to receive training on the safe prescribing of opioids before receiving or renewing their DEA license.
  • Trauma-Informed Care for Youth: Includes funding to support programs that offer trauma-informed care for youth. Due to Senator Manchin’s efforts, the bill will specifically allow funding to go to programs like West Virginia’s Handle with Care program, which helps connect students who have been involved in traumatic events in the home, particularly related to substance use, to trauma informed care in the schools.
    • This is complementary to Senator Manchin’s upcoming bill to establish funding for the “Handle with Care” program, which helps connect students who have been involved in traumatic events in the home, particularly related to substance use, to trauma informed care in the schools. West Virginia’s Handle with Care program has helped children in all 55 counties in West Virginia get the support that they need and has served as a model for other states. Senator Manchin’s legislation will offer funding to build on this successful trauma-informed care model.
  • Improving Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs: Encourages providers to use PDMPs and improving interoperability between PDMPs and health IT systems.
    • Senator Manchin is a cosponsor of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act of 2017  (S.778), which would go even further to require the use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP) in all states that receive certain federal funding to combat opioid abuse and also requires states to make their PDMP data available to other states. PDMPs are electronic databases used to track the prescribing and dispensing of prescription drugs to patients.