WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05), a long-time champion for holistic efforts to address the nation's drug abuse epidemic, applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for taking comprehensive action on nearly 50 opioid-related initiatives this week and next week. The legislation covers four main areas: treatment and recovery, prevention, protecting communities and fighting fentanyl.
Each day in America, 115 people die from drug overdoses, while more than 2.7 million people will struggle with opioids this year, highlighting the urgency for a multi-pronged approach to save lives.
"We have no time to waste in our efforts to save lives and end the devastating toll that this opioid-abuse epidemic is having across the country. It requires a holistic approach with all hands on deck to tackle this crisis from every side, and that's what the House aims to do through the proposed innovative initiatives this month," said Rogers, co-founding co-chair of the Congressional Causus on Prescription Drug Abuse. "Our rural towns in Eastern Kentucky did not have the capacity to handle this monstrous problem, when it quietly took root in our neighborhoods nearly two decades ago, before spreading nationwide. Given the unique challenges confronting Appalachia, the opioid-related overdose rate is now 65% higher than in the rest of the nation, requiring dire attention at the federal, state and local levels."
Two of Rogers' cosponsored bills were approved by the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, including:
- The Treating Barriers to Properity Act of 2018, H.R. 5294, expanding the Appalachian Regional Commission's (ARC) ability to provide grants in Appalachia for projects and activities aimed at reducing drug abuse in the region; and
- The Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act, H.R. 5102, bipartisan legislation that Rogers cosponsored alongside Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA). In response to the nation's deadly drug abuse epidemic, the bill offers student loan repayment of up to $250,000 for students who agree to work as a substance use disorder treatment professional in areas most in need of their services.
Rogers voted for 25 opioid-related bills passed by the House this week, addressing Medicare coverage, education resources, law enforcement, veterans treatment courts, treatment and recovery centers, and expanded research. Some of the most important bills impacting Kentucky, include:
- H.R. 5582, the Abuse Deterrent Access Act of 2018, directing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to evaluate the coverage of abuse-deterrent opioids in Medicare plans;
- H.R. 5685, the Medicare Opioid Safety Education Act of 2018, directing CMS to compile education resources for beneficiaries regarding opioid use, pain management, and alternative pain management treatments, and to include the resources in the “Medicare and You” Handbook;
- H.R. 5002, the ACE Research Act, providing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with new, flexible authorities to conduct innovative research and spur urgently needed research on new non-addictive pain medications;
- H.R. 5752, the Stop Illicit Drug Importation Act of 2018, to streamline and enhance the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) tools to intercept illegal products as they enter the U.S. supply chain;
H.R. 5788, the Synthetics, Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act and H.R. 2851, the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act, enhancing efforts to stop illicit fentanyl at our nation's borders;
- H.R. 4284, the Indexing Narcotics, Fentanyl, and Opioids (INFO) Act of 2017, directing Health and Human Services to create a public and easily accessible electronic dashboard linking to all of the nationwide efforts and strategies to combat the opioid crisis;
- H.R. 5327, the Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act of 2018, establishing Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers (CORCs) that will serve as models for comprehensive treatment and recovery. CORCs would utilize the full range of FDA-approved medications and evidence-based treatments, have strong linkages with the community, generate meaningful outcomes data, and dramatically improve the opportunities for individuals to establish and maintain long-term recovery as productive members of society; and
- H.R. 5735, the Transitional Housing for Recovery in Viable Environments (THRIVE) Demonstration Program Act, establishing a demonstration program to set aside section 8 housing vouchers for supportive and transitional housing for individuals recovering from opioid use disorders or other substance use disorders.
The House will consider the remaining opioid-related bills next week.
For more information about the House's comprehensive work to combat opioid abuse, visit opioidcrisis.gop.