The intersection of the two crises — AIDS and opioids — serves as an undercurrent to new legislation US Senator Elizabeth Warren is preparing to file, the latest attempt on Capitol Hill to tackle the opioid scourge.
Appearing at the South End center Friday, Warren said her bill, dubbed the CARE Act, takes a framework championed in groundbreaking 1990 legislation designed to fight AIDS and seeks to apply those lessons to battling overdoses today.
The legislation is built on a massive $100 billion commitment over 10 years, with funds funneled directly to states and individual centers that treat those fighting substance abuse. The Cambridge Democrat is filing the bill with US Representative Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, and is still compiling co-sponsors.
Federal lawmakers have shown a willingness to tackle opioids, but the bill would be just one of several proposals already on the US Senate’s radar. In the last month alone, no fewer than three other bipartisan bills have surfaced, in addition to a spending bill that passed last month and commits $4 billion in federal funds to help states. The US Senate Health Committee, too, released its own draft of a bill this week.
Similar to how the 1990 Ryan White CARE Act sent money directly to areas hardest hit, Warren’s aides said her bill is designed to funnel more funds to states and cities with both the highest overdose rates and the most in raw numbers.