WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (R-KY) applauds unanimous approval by the U.S. House of Representatives today of the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act, H.R. 5102, bipartisan legislation he 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.
Congressman Rogers gave the following remarks on the House Floor in support of the bill, after being introduced by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, who applauded Rogers' tireless efforts to combat the opioid abuse crisis:
"Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
"Mr. Chairman, thank you for those words. This is a fight that is critical to the country and I want to thank the chairman of the committee, Mr. Walden, and the other members of the Energy and Commerce Committee for reporting out for consideration today this multi-pronged assault on this cruel epidemic that is ravaging the country. The committee has responded and I thank you Mr. Chairman for all of these bills here today, especially the bill that we are debating now, and that's the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act.
"We've invested billions of dollars in treatment and recovery services, while only ten percent of Americans with a substance use disorder actually receive treatment. Ninety percent go without treatment. That situation is even more dire in small communities: far too often, when our rural constituents recognize their addiction, they are not able to find treatment or recovery services anywhere close to home.
"Those who do enter the treatment profession often don’t stay long due to the stress of the job, they don’t work in areas most in need of their services, or they have difficulty repaying their sizeable student loans. If we want to maximize our down payment for the future, these professionals are the key.
"H.R. 5102 creates a substantial student loan repayment benefit for a broad spectrum of medical professionals who enter this noble vocation. It also ensures that these individuals serve in areas most in need of their services for the long haul – offering periodic payments over six years.
"With these incentives in place, more of our constituents suffering from addiction will receive the quality treatment they so desperately need.
"I want to thank Ms. Clark for her genuine partnership and Dr. Burgess and his team for their guidance. I urge passage of this important bill, and I yield back."
The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
Related press release - May 15, 2018: Rogers, Clark workforce loan repayment bill advances in House