Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) announced that President Obama has signed into law H.R. 2055, the final Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Appropriations Conference Report, which includes a number of provisions to support ongoing federal efforts to combat drug abuse. Rogers has been a strong advocate for federal policies and programs to fight our country’s fastest growing drug threat – the abuse and misuse of prescription and illicit drugs. Through his role as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Rogers worked to pass this legislation, which also funds several key federal agencies for the remainder of FY 2012.
“According to a recent survey, nearly 50% of families in southern and eastern Kentucky have a friend, a relative, or a neighbor who is struggling with addiction to prescription drug abuse. While our region has been beating back on this epidemic for more than a decade through Operation UNITE, prescription drug abuse is now the fastest growing drug threat confronting our nation – particularly among our troops and veterans,” stated Rogers. “In an era when we have shepherded historic cuts in federal spending, I am proud to support continued funding for these important programs which provide our law enforcement and military with the tools to root out bad actors, provide treatment and rehabilitation options for addicts, and afford important training opportunities for the countless volunteers on the ground working to combat this scourge in their communities.”
H.R. 2055 contains a number of provisions to combat drug abuse, including:
Ø Authorization of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to participate in state-run prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP).
For years, legal obstacles have precluded the VA from participating in state-run PDMPs, which are among the most effective and efficient tools available for doctors and pharmacists to identify individuals of risk for abuse or in need of treatment. H.R. 2055 includes important language authorizing VA to access this important information so that our men and women in uniform can receive the best possible care.
Ø Requirement for the Department of Defense (DOD) to examine electronically transmitting prescription data to the Department’s central drug information repository.
In 2009, Pentagon data indicates that military doctors wrote almost 3.8 million prescriptions for pain relief for our military men and women – more than four times the dosage in 2001. According to U.S. Army reports, the prescription of pain management drugs is handled inconsistently at military medical treatment facilities, particularly in combat areas. Given the increasing concern that the growing use of pain management medication leads to dependency among service members, H.R. 2055 requires DOD to develop an action plan for establishing a more consistent internal electronic transmission process and for potential cooperation with state-run PDMPs.
Ø $50 million in the DOD budget for the National Guard to continue its counter-drug state plans.
A portion of this funding will assist the Kentucky National Guard’s ongoing efforts in support of local partners like Appalachian HIDTA, Operation UNITE and the U.S. Forest Service to tackle the drug problem in the Commonwealth. This funding is essential to stopping home-grown marijuana and methamphetamine production and cleaning up the Daniel Boone National Forest.
Ø Vital funding for drug courts in communities around the country.
H.R. 2055 provides an additional $67.6 million within the Department of Health and Human Services to support drug courts around the country, which give thousands of men and women a second lease on life. This funding supplements an additional $35 million for drugs courts, which were funded when the Department of Justice’s budget was signed into law in November. H.R. 2055 also includes an additional $1.4 million for drug court training and technical assistance.
Ø Support for our nation’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA).
A total of $238.5 million is included in H.R. 2055 to support HIDTAs around the country, a portion of which will be allocated to aid the ongoing mission of the well-regarded Appalachian HIDTA. Appalachian HIDTA was established in 1998 to attack, disrupt, and dismantle the drug trafficking and money laundering organizations operating in about 70 counties in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and Virginia. Appalachian HIDTA has an annual budget of about $7 million.
Ø Funds for organizations that assist states in developing model drug laws.
The legislation includes $1.25 million to support organizations that advise States on establishing laws and policies to address alcohol and drug-related issues. As states around the country work to address the unique challenges within their borders, such assistance will be necessary to develop the legal frameworks to put treatment, education or monitoring programs into effect.
Rogers is a founding member and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse, which unites like-minded policy-makers in their efforts to raise awareness of abuse, and to work towards innovative and effective policy solutions. In 2003, Rogers helped launch Operation UNITE, an effort to to rid 29 southern and eastern Kentucky counties of illegal drug use through undercover narcotics investigations, coordinating treatment for drug users, providing support to families and friends of substance abusers, while educating the public about the dangers of illicit drugs.
Rogers has served Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District since 1981. With a focus on economic development, job creation, fighting illegal drugs and preserving Appalachia’s natural treasures, he has a reputation for listening to his constituents and fighting for the region he represents. For more information visit www.halrogers.house.gov.