WASHINGTON—Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-2) introduced H.R. 5140, the Tribal Addiction and Recovery Act (TARA), to allow tribes direct access to federal opioid grants and open up the grants to treat all substance abuse disorders. Currently, tribes are forced to petition the state for access to opioid grants created by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).
“American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) have the highest opioid overdose rate in the country—higher than any other minority,” said Mullin. “I believe it is a violation of the treaty-trust responsibility of the federal government to force sovereign tribes to ask the state for access to these grants. I’m proud to introduce the Tribal Addiction and Recovery Act so that tribes gain the same ability as states to claim and utilize this funding to fight the opioid epidemic in Indian Country. These grants will also be available to the states and tribes to treat all types of substance abuse disorders, including addiction to heroin, meth, and alcohol.”
TARA creates a specific funding stream for tribes to fight addiction in their communities by streamlining government resources and grants for the AI/AN community. Additionally, these grants can now be used for more than just prescription drug addiction. The grants can be used to address historical and intergenerational trauma by giving tribes authority to allocate the funds how they see fit when it comes to addiction treatment.
The 21st Century Cures Act, which included CARA, was enacted in 2016. CARA authorized almost $1 billion in new funding to fight the epidemic. Last month, Congress authorized an additional $6 billion in funding to fight the opioid epidemic for FY18 and FY19 in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement. As the opioid crisis continues to severely impact tribal communities, Congress has a responsibility to ensure this funding reaches tribes in need.