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Congress sends comprehensive bill seeking to address opioid epidemic to President Trump for signature

By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line

As Kentucky and the rest of the nation continue to search for ways to combat the opioid epidemic, Congress has now sent the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 to President Trump’s desk for his signature. The bipartisan legislation saw final passage in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday with a 98-1 vote.

Earlier this year, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell held a press conference in Louisville introducing the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery through Effective Employment and Reentry (CAREER) Act,  which seeks to address the opioid epidemic. The CAREER Act, strongly supported by the Kentucky Chamber, was included in the final omnibus bill passed Monday.

“I am proud that my CAREER Act, which focuses on addiction’s impact on American workers and their families, and my measure to help the increasing number of vulnerable infants born dependent on opioids are included in this comprehensive bill to fight back against the scourge of addiction through prevention, enforcement, and treatment efforts. Community, health-care, and business leaders agree that stable employment and transitional housing are vitally linked to helping individuals in recovery maintain long-term sobriety,” McConnell said.

Among the impacts of the opioid crisis is the detriment to business as Kentucky is facing a shortage of qualified employees, in part because of the crisis. Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson issued a statement applauding the legislation and work of Kentucky U.S. Senator McConnell.

“Kentucky’s business community is acutely aware of the state’s growing opioid epidemic and recognizes it is more than a public health or law enforcement issue. The crisis has become a workforce issue and employers are feeling its impact firsthand. We commend Senator McConnell for stepping up and providing leadership by introducing the CAREER Act, which provides patients in recovery the resources they need to return to healthy, productive lives and re-enter the workforce,” Adkisson said.

According to a release sent by Leader McConnell, the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery through Effective Employment and Reentry (CAREER) Act expands grants and targets funding for treatment, transitional housing, job training and placement services to help individuals in recovery find their footing and maintain their sobriety. An act refining federal efforts to combat the effects of opioids on expecting mothers and their unborn children, called Protecting Moms and Infants Act, is also included in the final version of the Opioid Crisis Response Act.