A bill aimed at addressing the country’s opioid addiction crisis isfilled with provisions supported by members of both parties inCongress, but Democrats are threatening to block passage of thelegislation unless Republicansagree to add more funding for treatment initiatives in the finaldraft.

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The bill supported by Republican leadership includes only $85million for treatment programs over the next five years. Democratssay that figure should be increased more than elevenfold, to $940million.

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Just a few months ago, when the Senate passed the originalincarnation of the bill, Democrats unsuccessfully proposed anamendment to increased funding to $600 million. That proposal wassupported by several moderate Republicans in the midst of toughreelection battles this fall, but was not embraced by GOPleadership.

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Both the Senate and House passed similar bills that a jointcommittee is now in the process of refining into a single bill thatwill have to be approved by both chambers again.

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Suffice it to say, it is highly unlikely that the sameRepublicans who opposed the $600 million proposal in the Senate arenow going to accept the $940 million proposal.

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But if they unite in the Senate, Democrats could block thebill’s passage through a filibuster. They are ostensiblycalculating that the threat will either force Republicans to acceptgreater funding or will doom the bill, and thus deny vulnerableRepublican senators who are campaigning on the issue of opioidtreatment, notably Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and RobPortman of Ohio, from touting a major accomplishment on theissue.

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Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-Rhode Island, a recovering addictand the son of former Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, urgedleaders of his party to pass whatever bill could be passed, even ifmuch more funding is ultimately necessary.

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“How can we just let a number of people die from overdoses justso we can make a political point that Republicans are wrong onfunding?” Kennedy told The New York Times.

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The Obama administration has made clear that it believes morefunding is needed, but it has not signaled whether insufficientfunding would prompt a veto from the president.

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Michael P. Botticelli, the director of the White House Office ofNational Drug Control Policy, told The Times, “without additionalfunding and without treatment funding, we’re not going to make adent in this issue.”

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On Tuesday, the Obama administration also unveiled a new rulethat will allow physicians to treat three times as many patientswith buprenorphine, the medication used for opioid addiction.

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