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Senate HELP Committee schedules hearing on April 11 on draft opioid bill with key provisions addressing trauma and seeks stakeholder comments


Key provisions that are closely aligned with sections the Heitkamp-Durbin “Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act (S. 774)” are included in opioid legislation that is advancing in the U.S. Senate.  A draft bill, “The Opioid Crisis Response Act,” is the subject of a hearing on Wednesday, April 11 in the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions) Committee and a mark-up of the legislation is expected over the next several weeks. 

Senator Heitkamp’s office highlighted three major provisions that are included in the HELP Committee draft bill (Click here for press release that includes links to the 116-page draft bill and a summary—both also attached to this post) that resulted from “extensive engagement” by the offices of Senators Heitkamp (D-ND), Durbin (D-IL), Capito (R-WV), and Murkowski (R-AK).  Two sections include specific references to trauma:

Interagency Task Force (Section 511, pages 98-107): To help identify, prevent, and address the impact of trauma on children and youth, including trauma related to substance abuse, this creates a task force to recommend, disseminate, and prioritize within federal programs best practices for supporting children and families who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing trauma.

Pilot Program on Delivery of Trauma-Informed Support Practices (Section 512, pages 108-116): To better support children and families impacted by the opioids crisis, this will create a grant program to increase student support services and better integrate mental health care in schools, aimed at preventing and mitigating the effects of trauma in children and youth.

An additional section mentioned by Heitkamp’s office relates to improving access to mental health services:

Services in Areas with Health Providers Shortages(Section 409, pages 73-74): To improve access to mental health, behavioral, substance use disorder services, this would allow health providers participating in the National Health Services Corps to provide services in schools and communities located in areas with that have been hit hardest by the opioid crisis and with mental health professional shortages. This also allows masters level, licensed substance use disorder treatment counselors to receive loan repayment for practicing in underserved areas.

Also, the final section (below) is included in the HELP Committee bill summary under the title of “Supports for Children, Families and Workers Impacted by the Crisis” along with Sections 511, 512, and 409:

Plans of Safe Care Implementation Grants (Section 107A, pages 58-69): To help states implement plans of safe care for substance-exposed infants included in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), these grants will facilitate collaboration and coordination between the agencies responsible for carrying out plans, and extend critical state technical assistance programs. 

The HELP Committee is accepting comments on the legislation received by April 11 via email ( Examples of successful trauma-related programs would be instructive and especially resonate for the senators on the HELP Committee (see attached list) if their constituents have or could benefit from the programs.


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