Representing the 4th District of Connecticut

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Himes to Host Shatterproof’s Mendell at State of the Union

February 3, 2020
Press Release

Stamford, CT— Today, Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) announced that he will be joined at the State of the Union Address in Washington, D.C. by Connecticut native Gary Mendell, founder and CEO of Shatterproof.  Shatterproof is a nation-leading nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing the addiction crisis in United States by transforming addiction treatment, shattering stigma of addiction, advocating for federal and state policy change and payer reform, and supporting and educating the community.

“Like millions of Americans, Gary’s life was forever changed when he lost his son in 2011 after a years-long struggle with a substance use disorder,” said Himes. “Gary took that heartbreaking loss and transformed it into action. Shatterproof is on the frontline of the fight to reclaim America from the terrible scourge of addiction that is destroying communities and tearing families apart.” 

“I am honored to join Representative Jim Himes at the State of the Union Address and serve as a voice for the millions of Americans who are affected by the disease of addiction,” said Mendell. “Our country is facing a public health crisis that will impact generations to come and it is critical that we stop hiding, we stop the shame, and we start a national conversation about how to help our loved ones and each other. While overdose deaths may have plateaued for the first time in 28 years, the number of annual overdose deaths is still more than three times what it was just 20 years ago.  And there are still more than 20 million people in this country with a substance use disorder who need access to treatment and a path to recovery. We the people call upon our nation’s leaders to prioritize access to treatment, training for health care professionals, and public and private funding for evidence-based solutions that will reverse the addiction crisis our country is facing.”

At the end of 2019, Congressman Himes supported the end of the year spending package that provided:

  • $1.5 billion in direct State Opioid Response (SOR) grants
  • $402 million for veteran opioid abuse prevention
  • $41.68 billion for the National Institutes of Health
  • $5.88 billion in total funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • $7.97 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In addition, last year, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act became law with Congressman Himes’s strong support. Its key provisions expand Medicare and Medicaid access to treatment, increase monitoring of synthetic opioid imports from other countries and allocate more resources to states to support first responders. The bill also permanently authorizes nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe medication-assistance treatment and temporarily allows nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialists to prescribe MATs until 2023. Further, it requires the Postal Service to screen packages for fentanyl, which could stem the flow of synthetic opioids from China.

Though it has not passed the Senate or become law yet, the House of Representatives has also passed the Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019, which would provide:

  • $7.5 billion in funding for SOR and require grantees and subgrantees to provide evidence-based treatment and provide medication-assisted treatment;
  • Increased support for innovation around non-opioid and non-addictive medical products for pain treatment, bolstered efforts to increase the availability and capacity of the behavioral health workforce and additional federal resources for States to combat opioid use disorder;
  • $200 million in funding to support children who have been impacted by the opioid crisis, including funding for trauma-informed practices in schools and additional investments in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).

“Combatting the opioid crisis must be a bipartisan priority,” continued Himes.  “I will continue to support legislation that helps families and gives organizations like Shatterproof the support they need.”