WASHINGTON, DC - Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5), a member of the bipartisan Opioid Task Force in the House, introduced bipartisan legislation with Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) to allow student loan borrowers enrolled in a state-approved substance abuse treatment program to defer payment on public student loans while actively receiving treatment without interest accruing during the deferment period.
“Families shouldn’t have to choose between seeking treatment for their loved ones struggling with opioid addiction and paying the bills,” Esty said. “The pain of helping a family member seek treatment and recover is difficult enough; no one should have to tell their son or daughter that the family can’t afford to treat their child. By allowing Americans to defer student loan payments while receiving state-approved treatment, this bill will be a small step forward in our efforts to combat the opioid crisis and repair families. Like Congressman MacArthur, I’m committed to working across party lines to ensure that we heal everyone we can.”
“The opioid epidemic continues to destroy communities across the United States, and in many cases, young Americans transitioning to adulthood are the most heavily impacted by this crisis,” said Congressman MacArthur. “This bipartisan bill will allow young adults to focus on treatment and overcoming addiction without having to worry about the financial burden of student loans. Young Americans, who are on the road to recovery, should have financial peace of mind while receiving life-saving treatment for addiction.”
“One in ten. The percentage of people suffering with a substance use disorder who get the treatment they so desperately need is nothing short of tragic. The legislation proposed by Representatives Esty and MacArthur removes a substantial barrier to that treatment. Fully committing to an effective recovery program optimizes the chance that a young person can change the trajectory of their life - the lasting outcomes to that investment are enormous,” said Maria Coutant Skinner from the McCall Center for Behavioral Health in Torrington, CT.
“Congressman MacArthur should be commended for his wanting to help persons in recovery in a very meaningful & measurable way,” said James P. Curtin, President & Chief Executive Officer of Daytop New Jersey. “All too often financial pressure can act as a relapse trigger. This relief, while someone is actively engaged in treatment, will go a long way in supporting someone’s path to recovery.”
Esty is a member of the bipartisan Opioid Task Force in the House, and was a leader on the bipartisan Opioid Conference Committee for the House and Senate versions of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) last year. The legislation authorized $77.9 million per year from fiscal years 2016 through 2020 and devoted funds for treatment and recovery services, alternatives to prison for nonviolent offenders, law enforcement initiatives, and programs to prevent overdose deaths and improper prescriptions. Two Esty-sponsored provisions on consumer and provider education about the risk of prescription opioid addiction were included in the final legislation.
Connecticut’s Chief Medical Examiner estimates that the state’s fatal drug overdoses could exceed 1,000 for the first time in history this year, largely due to the surge in deaths from powerful opioids like heroin and fentanyl.
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