President Joe Biden’s discretionary request for the next fiscal year includes $10.7 billion toward ending the opioid epidemic
By Jason LangendorfApril 19, 2021
Submitted through the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the discretionary request represents an unprecedented figure—and a $3.9 billion increase over the 2021 enacted level—earmarked to bolster opioids research, prevention, treatment and recovery support services. The request notes urgent needs driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights targeted investments that support populations with distinct needs, such as Native Americans, older Americans and rural populations.
Together, America has a chance not simply to go back to the way things were before the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn struck, but to begin building a better, stronger, more secure, more inclusive America.”—Shalanda Young, acting director of OMB
“This moment of crisis is also a moment of possibility,” wrote OMB acting director Shalanda Young in a letter to leaders of both the Appropriations and the Budget committees of the House and Senate. “The upcoming appropriations process is another important opportunity to continue laying a stronger foundation for the future and reversing a legacy of chronic disinvestment in crucial priorities. Together, America has a chance not simply to go back to the way things were before the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn struck, but to begin building a better, stronger, more secure, more inclusive America.”
According to previously released and updated data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half a million Americans have died from an opioid overdose since 1999, including 81,000 deaths in the 12-month period leading up to May 2020, the highest yearly figure on record. The escalating crisis has hit marginalized and underserved communities particularly hard, with those from lower socioeconomic circumstances, people of color and those in rural communities bearing an outsized burden.
Biden’s Budget Proposal for OUD
Although the proposed budget doesn’t explicitly mention these disparities, it calls for additional funding for people in the demographics at greatest risk for opioid use disorder (OUD) and overdose deaths. Proposals include:
- Expanding access to mental healthcare
- Accelerating efforts to end homelessness
- Spurring infrastructure modernization and rehabilitation in marginalized communities
- Creating an inclusive economy and expanding opportunity
- Upholding America’s responsibilities to tribal nations and obligations to military veterans
Over the past decade, Young says, “overly restrictive budget caps” have helped shrink non-defense discretionary funding as a share of the economy, leading to significant underinvestment in core public services, benefits and protections. According to the acting director, President Biden believes the administration can begin reversing the consequences of this disinvestment through measures such as the creation of an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health within the National Institutes of Health, a grant program for students from low-income families and a reinvestment in civil rights protections.
Young writes: “These are just a handful of the significant new public investments that would result in a healthier, safer, more prosperous and more just future for all Americans.”
Photo: Matthew Lancaster