On Wednesday, May 12, the House of Representatives passed a number of mental health, addiction, and suicide-prevention bills. During our Advocacy in Action Conference & Virtual Hill Day last month, NAADAC members met with lawmakers to build support for increasing funding for family support programs.
We told lawmakers that the addiction crisis affects more than just the individual; it affects the family system and community. We are excited that the House of Representatives listened to the addiction stakeholder community and passed the Family Support Services for Addiction Act of 2021 (H.R. 433). This bipartisan bill was introduced by Reps. David Trone (D-MD) and Dan Meuser (R-PA) and would provide $25 million to establish a grant program for family community organizations that provide support for individuals struggling with substance use disorder. The House also passed two other NAADAC supported bills: the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act (H.R. 1475), which addresses racial and ethnic minority mental health disparities, and the Mental Health Services for Students Act (H.R. 721), which supports comprehensive school-based mental health services for children.
With data showing that the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing substance use and overdose deaths, NAADAC is encouraged that Congress remains committed to building and maintaining a strong addiction workforce and infrastructure that can help take on our nation’s growing crisis. While we are encouraged that the House of Representatives passed these important bills, there is more advocacy needed to get them to the President’s desk so they can be signed into law.
How can you continue to help advocate for families impacted by addiction?
There is no question that your advocacy is helping shape the debate around federal investments in the addiction support infrastructure. Your collective advocacy helped get H.R. 433 passed in the House, but now we need to build support in the Senate! Today’s action in the House of Representatives is just one step in the legislative process for a bill to become a law. H.R. 433 will now be assigned to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee for further consideration and debate. The Senate will also need to act on the legislation in order to advance the bill through the legislative process. The Senate version of the Family Support Services for Addiction Act of 2021 (S. 485) was introduced by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).
The other two NAADAC supported bills, Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act (H.R. 1475) and Mental Health Services for Students Act (H.R. 721), passed in the House and have also been sent over to the Senate for consideration, but they do not currently have Senate versions – commonly referred to as “companion legislation.” NAADAC will also continue to push for Senate actions on these measures as well.
NOW is the time to contact your Senators to ask them to cosponsor the Senate version of the Family Support Services for Addiction Act of 2021 (S. 485). Building support for the bill will help the sponsors advocate with Senate committee and party leaders for the legislation to be considered and debated on the floor later this year. Click here to find your Senators and here to learn more about the legislation. You can find their phone numbers and online contact forms on their websites. Keep in mind that each state has two Senators.
What can you say when you call or email?
Let your Senators know that you are an addiction professional in their state. Tell them how addiction impacts more than just the individual and ask them to cosponsor the S. 485, the Family Support Services for Addiction Act of 2021 led by Senators Gillibrand and Moore Capito. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted so many individuals and families struggling with a substance use disorder. This bipartisan legislation will provide federal support to many struggling communities. This important bill passed the House. Now it is time for the Senate to take up the legislation to ensure that it is sent the President’s desk for signature and to become law.
Remember to provide your contact information to your Senators and ask them to follow up with any questions!