A closer look at how House Republicans are combating the opioid crisis

House Republicans are focused  on the issues and priorities that matter most to people.  That’s one of the many reasons why this month we’re passing dozens of bills to help combat the opioid crisis that’s wreaking havoc on communities big and small across the country. We’re prioritizing treatment and recovery, prevention, ways to protect our community, and fighting fentanyl. For more on our work, visit OpioidCrisis.gop

Because this is a crisis that’s affecting every region of the country, House Republicans have been sharing stories and highlighting the ways the People’s House can help. Here’s what they had to say:

Judiciary Committee | The Opioid Crisis: Garrett’s Story

In May 2018, Kristen testified before the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing on the “Challenges and Solutions in the Opioid Abuse Crisis.” Over the next couple of weeks, the House of Representatives is taking up dozens of bills to combat this chilling epidemic, including two Judiciary Committee bills, the REGROUP Act and the Stop Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act.

Chairs Greg Walden (R-OR) and Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) via FoxNews.com: Important bills to fight the opioid epidemic are up for House consideration

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, the panel tasked with writing most of the nation’s health-care laws, continues our years-long fight to turn the tide of the epidemic with dozens of bills that will be considered by the House of Representatives in the coming days.

Among our latest efforts are:

  • Incentivizing non-opioid pain treatment and making it easier to locate and track federal grants.
  • Streamlining the Food and Drug Administration’s tools to intercept illicit drugs.
  • Ensuring hospitals develop follow-up protocols for when patients are discharged following an opioid overdose.
  • Working with states to improve the education, surveillance and treatment of injection drug-use associated infections.

This month, the House is poised to pass meaningful reforms that collectively can make a real difference in our communities. These bills will bolster enforcement efforts to protect our communities, advance prevention and public health efforts, and address coverage and payment issues within Medicare and Medicaid.

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Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) in The Salt Lake Tribune: The opioid addiction crisis should not be underestimated

Utah’s usage of opioids has been referred to as an “insatiable appetite,” a “catastrophe” “national emergency,” that “traps people” in a downward spiral. In fact, Utah has the seventh-highest drug overdose rate in the nation right now. Let that sink in. The strong mixture of powerful opioids on the black market increases the chances for an accidental overdose, which is multiplying the deaths.

We’ve all heard the many tragic stories: A promising athlete who got hooked on painkillers after an injury, a mom who experimented with ways to cope with day-to-day stress, a hard-working laborer whose struggle with a chronic work injury turned into a fight against addiction, and even death.

As a member of Congress, I am responding to this crisis. On Oct. 11, I testified at a hearing dedicated to the opioid epidemic. That day, we helped solidify a $650 million increase in funding for substance abuse and prevention and treatment programs, above the 2016 funding. Congress also recently provided $6 billion for the overall effort, and more legislation is in the works. Congress also continues to investigate the many facets of the problem: fentanyl a synthetic opioid; alleged pill dumping and patient brokering.

In 2017, Congress passed two major initiatives including the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act. These provide critical resources for combating the crisis, including improving opioid treatment access, education for health care professions and risk education for athletes, research and treatment for women who are pregnant and facing addiction, treatment for newborns whose mothers are addicts.

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Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) in the Royal Examiner: United in the Fight

One of the focuses of last month’s hearing was a new danger factoring into the opioid epidemic – synthetic, or analogue, drugs. These chemically-altered drugs are flooding the illicit drug market. Synthetic drugs are designed to mimic other street drugs and can be more potent than the real thing and just as deadly. Last year, a woman was found in Rockingham County with more than four pounds of one of these drugs called fentanyl – the largest seizure ever of this drug by Virginia State Police. Just a few weeks ago, the Nebraska State Patrol seized almost 120 pounds of fentanyl during a routine traffic stop. That’s enough lethal doses to kill 26 million people. Because many of these drugs come from outside of the country, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act. This bipartisan bill will provide swifter action to stop the unlawful importation and distribution of synthetic drugs and give law enforcement effective tools to help keep our communities safe.

In the coming weeks, the House of Representatives will vote on dozens of bills to combat this chilling epidemic. From stopping these drugs at their source to providing help to those struggling with addiction, Congress is committed to working with President Trump and his Administration to stop this crisis. With a focus on enforcement, prevention, and treatment, we can turn the tide on this public health emergency.

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Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) in The High Point Enterprise: New approaches to solving the opioid crisis

This takes me to the bill that I cosponsored a few weeks back and was recently moved through the House Financial Services Committee, the THRIVE Act, which is part and parcel of this approach. The legislation, if eventually signed into law, would expand housing options for individuals who are transitioning out of addiction treatment and require continued support. This is exactly the kind of policy that we need to be considering. Housing is part of a foundation that helps former addicts get off the streets and in a place where they can rise above poverty and addiction.

Besides the policy aspect of this bill there’s a larger issue worth pointing out here. There has always been, and still is, a stigma around drug addiction. If we want to make real progress on battling this opioid epidemic, we need to change the way we look at those who are suffering. Rather than seeing them as liabilities, we need to see them as assets.

The THRIVE Act, by helping people transition from recovery to a home, will do just that. And when they have a home, they’ll be more likely to get a job and get back to being a contributing member of society.

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Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA) in The LaGrange Daily News: Rebuilding our communities and combating the opioid epidemic

No family should have to suffer through addiction alone.

This task force will help target current resources and examine new ways that we can help victims and their loved ones fight back against this disease.

I have also heard from employers across Georgia’s Third District that they need assistance to help combat the effects of opioid abuse on their workforce and their business.

That is why H.R. 5892 would create an advisory committee to counsel the Secretary of Labor on actions the Department of Labor can take to address opioid abuse in the workplace. This advisory committee would make recommendations on appropriate workplace policies, such as early identification strategies and employer substance abuse policies, to help employers consider best approaches to combat opioid misuse in the workplace.

These are just two of the dozens of bipartisan bills that the House will have the opportunity to consider in the coming weeks. While this is undoubtedly the largest legislative initiative to fight opioid addiction that Congress has undertaken, it is just the beginning.

This massive effort reflects the hard work of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find ways to fight back against the ravages of this disease.

Full Op-ed

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chair Phil Roe, M.D.: Working Together to Tackle the Opioid Epidemic

Over the next two weeks, the House will consider dozens of bills to expand treatment and recovery options; increase overdose and misuse prevention; protect communities by giving law enforcement the resources they need to get these dangerous drugs out of our communities; and better fight ever-expanding and changing synthetic drugs. You can read more about our efforts at www.opioidcrisis.gop. These bills follow a significant infusion of funding that was received as a result of this year’s funding bill, which provided $4 billion in opioid-related funding.

One of the bills we are considering this week, Jessie’s Law, introduced by Rep. Tim Walberg (MI), will ensure doctors are made aware of a patient’s prescribing history so that patients with a history of addiction can avoid being given opioids. The law is named after a young woman who was a recovering addict and was prescribed opioids following a running injury, which ultimately led to her death. So many of the stories you hear about opioid overdoses are all the more tragic because they are entirely preventable.

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E&C Hears Personal Stories from the Opioid Crisis

Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX) in The Hill: Fighting back against the opioid crisis

Recently the Ways and Means Committee approved a comprehensive package of bills led by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), who chairs the Subcommittee on Health, aimed at beating back the opioid crisis. Our bipartisan bills will put in place many common-sense measures to reduce unnecessary prescribing of opioids and to help those addicted, including our nation’s seniors.

That means tackling the issues fueling the crisis by improving education and best practices for patients, prescribers, and insurers to prevent and combat the negative effects of opioids. All too often we hear stories of loved ones exposed to opioids-and then quickly addicted-from routine surgeries that may not have required opioid treatment in the first place. This can be prevented.

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Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL) in the Tallahassee Democrat: No veteran should slip through the cracks

Since the VA is the largest health care provider in the country, it is in a unique position to lead the initiative to prevent prescription opioid abuse, particularly among veterans.

That’s why I introduced the Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act – to ensure no veteran slips through the cracks. My bill increases opioid prescribing transparency at the VA and allows VA doctors to do what private sector physicians are already doing – access data from states nationwide to identify patterns of high opioid use that put patients at risk for addiction.

The act recently passed the House with bipartisan support and was also included as a provision in the VA MISSION Act, which was signed by President Trump. Sharing this information is just one step we can take to ensure the nine million veterans who receive their care through the VA benefit from the same safeguards as private sector patients.

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Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) in the Hillsdale Daily News: Finding solutions to the opioid crisis

We have also held a series of legislative hearings, listening to families affected by addiction and considering feedback from a wide spectrum of experts. This collaborative approach has culminated in a bipartisan package of 57 bills approved by the committee.

Two of them are bipartisan bills I introduced along with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI).

The first is Jessie’s Law. The bill is named after Jessie Grubb, a Michigan resident, who tragically overdosed on opioids she was given following a medical procedure, despite telling the hospital she was in recovery from an opioid addiction.

Jessie’s Law will help prevent overdose tragedies by ensuring medical professionals have access to a consenting patient’s complete health information so they can provide safe treatment and proper care.

Our second bill is the Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act, which is aimed at stopping the misuse or diversion of opioids in a hospice setting. Many patients receiving this type of care need painkillers to assist with end-of-life pain.

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ICYMI: These are the stories of the opioid crisis

At this week’s House Republican Leadership press conference, representatives from states across the country joined in and highlighted personal stories behind the opioid crisis.

Addiction doesn’t care about race, gender, income, or background, and the photos that House Republicans were holding of people personally impacted by the opioid crisis represent a country united in a common tragedy.

This month, the House will vote on dozens of bills that focus on treatment and recovery, prevention, protecting communities, and fighting fentanyl. For more information on our work, visit OpioidCrisis.gop

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Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK): Appropriators Are Committed To Addressing Opioid Addiction

In the House Appropriations Committee, we understand the importance and essential role federal funding has in combating the opioid crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 115 Americans die every day from an opiate overdose – that is one American every 13 minutes. In fact, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. We know the most significant contributor to this alarming fact is the misuse and abuse of opioids. Prescription drugs like oxycodone, codeine and morphine have become readily available through illegal channels and are distributed on the street without supervision from the original prescribing health professional. Addiction to these once well-intended drugs, as well as illicit use of heroin and fentanyl, have led to the deaths of over 50,000 Americans in just one year.

Combatting this epidemic has become one of the most significant challenges facing families and communities across our nation. Thanks to leadership from Chairman Hal Rogers, Congress has been targeting financial resources to address this crisis since 2015. Most recently, in March, Congress approved nearly $4 billion in appropriations to combat the opioid epidemic. As I lead Republicans in crafting the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill for fiscal year 2019, I will maintain our financial commitment to see this crisis turn a corner. This includes supporting numerous medical research and public health programs within the National Institutes of Health and CDC that are targeted toward treatment, prevention, and care for those suffering from opioid abuse.

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Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in USA Today: Thank Republicans for leading the charge against the opioid crisis

Congress is advancing bills that would help precisely those people who are most threatened by opioids.

For example, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act would reform an outdated law so that patients’ substance abuse history can be listed in their medical records. This bill, promoted by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., will give doctors access to information that can prevent tragic overdoses and improve patient safety.

The STOP Act, promoted by Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., would reduce the flow of Chinese fentanyl into our country by giving law enforcement new tools to detect suspicious packages in the mail.

These are just two of the more than 60 bills the Republican-led Congress is considering to combat the opioid crisis.

As important as our legislative agenda is to solving this crisis, healing the wounds of drug abuse will take more than government.

It will take a commitment by every citizen to fulfill our duties to one another. That means supporting people near us who are struggling with drug addiction — and supporting their family members and loved ones, as well.

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Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) in the Journal Sentinel: How Congress is stepping up to crack down on the opioid epidemic

There’s a man from southern Wisconsin who has a story of hope and inspiration. But that wasn’t always the case. For Kyle Pucek, an ankle injury at 23 turned into an addiction to heroin that nearly took his life.

Kyle was prescribed opioids for the pain. He got hooked. And like so many Americans found himself in a dangerous spiral for survival.

Kyle has been clean for more than four years now, but he lost a lot before getting there. He was sent to the hospital after suicide attempts and a near overdose. He can name for you at least 10 friends whose lives have been claimed by drugs.

Now, working with nonprofits in his native Janesville, he shares his story to encourage those struggling to enter recovery and get the help they need. One organization he works with is called Hope Over Heroin, a faith-based organization that uses a three-tiered approach to fight opioid addiction and support families impacted by the crisis.

…The time is now: We need to step up and fight the opioid epidemic from all sides.

In the last two years, the federal government has passed two major pieces of legislation to combat this crisis. In 2016, Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. Earlier this year, we allocated nearly $4 billion toward opioid abuse prevention and treatment as part of a broader government funding package.

To build on that, we have put together meaningful bipartisan legislation to make a difference for those who are at risk or struggling with addiction or recovery. This means creating more access to recovery centers so people have a place to turn to for help. In addition, the measures the House will consider over the next two weeks will stem the flow of opioids by changing how pills are prescribed and encourage non-opioid treatments. We will pass legislation to target the deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids like it. And we will give law enforcement more access to the resources they need to get these drugs off the street.

It is a sweeping effort to stem this crisis.

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