Cummings and Warren Host Roundtable With Baltimore Community Leaders on Efforts to Combat Opioid Epidemic

Jul 27, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (July 27, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Senator Elizabeth Warren held a roundtable with Maryland Senator Ben Cardin and Congressman John Sarbanes, Baltimore officials, health professionals, and community representatives to discuss the challenges they face in combating the opioid epidemic and the urgent need for new resources to expand treatment.  

“Today we heard first-hand how the opioid epidemic is ravaging Baltimore and the nation, and how additional funding is urgently needed to expand access to treatment,” Ranking Member Cummings said. “This crisis does not discriminate based on politics. It affects red states, blue states, and purple states.  It affects rich families, poor families, and everyone in between – and people are dying across nation.  The bill I introduced with Senator Warren—the CARE Act—is the comprehensive approach we need to address this emergency and provide the resources we need to those who have this disease.”

"Today’s discussion was a reminder: tackling America's opioid crisis requires all of us to work together: federal and local officials, treatment providers, community organizations, and law enforcement. And it demands that Congress send real funding to communities that are on the front lines of this public health emergency," said Senator Warren. "Congressman Cummings is a champion for the people of Baltimore, and I'm proud to partner with him in fighting to pass the CARE Act. Congress has acted before to root out an epidemic when it finally took action against HIV/AIDS - and Americans across the country are counting on us to do the same today."

“We must work together at all levels of government and in partnership with the private sector to ensure that our states and cities get the resources they need to save lives and end the opioid addiction crisis once and for all,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee. “Our country needs a more coordinated, comprehensive and far-reaching approach to battle this epidemic effectively, and I thank Congressman Cummings and Senator Warren for helping move us decisively in the right direction.”     

“Like many cities, Baltimore acutely experiences the pain of America’s opioid epidemic,” said Congressman Sarbanes, a member of the House Subcommittee on Health who has authored and introduced several bills to help tackle the opioid emergency. “We must provide more resources to our communities and deliver the kinds of proven and effective treatment options that our families desperately need. The CARE Act would be an important step forward in that effort, extending critical resources to those hit hardest by this crisis.”

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen moderated the discussion. Roundtable participants included Catherine Pugh, Mayor of Baltimore; Gary Tuggle, Interim Baltimore Police Commissioner; Kevin Lindamood, President and CEO, Health Care for the Homeless; Lawanda Williams, Director of Housing Services, Health Care for the Homeless; Dr. Aliya Jones, Chair, Department of Behavioral Health, Bon Secours; Dr. Scott Nolen, Director, Addiction and Health Equity Program, Open Society Institute; Joseph T. Jones, CEO, Center for Urban Families; Amy Collier, Division Director, Community Services, Catholic Charities of Baltimore; Erricka Bridgeford, Co-founder, Baltimore Ceasefire 365; Darrell Hodge, Peer Recovery Specialist, IBR Reach Health Services; Rosalind McCrory, Client, Health Care for the Homeless; and Mary Mowery, Client, Health Care for the Homeless.

On April 18, 2018, Cummings and Warren introduced the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, H.R. 5545/S. 2700, to begin treating the opioid crisis like the critical public health emergency it is.  The CARE Act is modeled directly on the bipartisan Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, which was enacted nearly 30 years ago to support federal investments and local decision-making to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

The CARE Act would provide $100 billion in stable, long-term funding over the next decade to help prevent and treat substance use disorders.  Under the legislation, Maryland would receive an estimated $48 million per year in state formula grants, while the hardest-hit communities in Maryland—including Baltimore City and 16 counties—would share an estimated $50.4 million in funding directed to the local jurisdictions on the front line of the crisis.  Maryland and all local jurisdictions also would be able to apply for competitive grants to seek additional funding. 

More than 75 Members of the House have now joined the CARE Act as cosponsors since it was introduced, including the entire House Democratic leadership and 13 House Committee Ranking Members. 

Ranking Member Cummings offered the CARE Act as an amendment to a bill considered during the House Republicans’ opioid week, but the Republican leadership refused to allow consideration of it.  The House passed legislation cosponsored by Cummings to reauthorize the Office of National Drug Control policy, which was adopted unanimously by the House Oversight Committee and is now pending in the Senate. 

The CARE Act has been endorsed by more than 30 groups representing health care professionals, local governments, and public health advocacy organizations.  Several editorial boards have supported the idea of the CARE Act, including the New York Times and the Baltimore Sun.

115th Congress