A New Milestone
What a week! For too long, communities across New Hampshire and the country have been suffering from the ongoing opioid epidemic. Our law enforcement, medical and treatment providers, recovery services, and local advocates are working harder than ever to serve and protect our communities, but they need more support. And last week, we took a crucial step forward towards providing them with the support they need.
As the co-chair and co-founder of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, I’ve been working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that Granite Staters have the supports they need to effectively stem the epidemic. From going on ride-alongs with police departments across the state to hosting regional briefings and hearing directly from stakeholders, I have taken the feedback I’ve gathered to help guide my work and promote action at the federal level.
In recognition of my leadership and commitment to combatting the opioid epidemic, I was recently appointed to the Conference Committee with producing a final bill of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), critical legislation that I’ve been fighting for that will support a number of important initiatives. These initiatives will include increasing access to life-saving medication like buprenorphine by allowing nurse practitioners to administer the drug; creating new grant programs for treatment facilities that are desperately in need of funds; investing in lifelong recovery efforts; and authorizing $180 million for community members tackling the epidemic on the ground.
Meeting with White House officials to discuss efforts to stem the opioid epidemic
When the committee met last week, I urged my colleagues to put aside their party differences and vote for CARA, which will have a tremendous impact on communities across the country. With more Americans now dying of drug overdoses than car accidents, this was not a time to play partisan politics, and I’m so pleased my colleagues took the advice of my Task Force and came together to pass this bill with strong bipartisan support.
I’m also incredibly excited to announce that the White House has adopted a key proposal first put forth in legislation I introduced with my Republican colleague from West Virginia, Alex Mooney. The bill, which had 43 bipartisan cosponsors, would fix a glitch in the Affordable Care Act that indirectly incentivizes doctors to prescribe more opioid pain medication than necessary, and I have been pushing the White House to take immediate action to make these changes. Prescription drugs play an enormous role in the heroin epidemic; far too many individuals struggling with addiction were first introduced to their drug of choice through legally-prescribed medication. That’s why it’s imperative that we take steps to reform prescribing practices to cut down on over-prescribing and safeguard our communities. I applaud the White House and HHS for adopting the Mooney-Kuster proposal, which will help undo this completely unnecessary and harmful policy. While I remain disappointed that this legislation did not include emergency funding to address the epidemic, the funding authorizations and programs it does include are vital to the success of our efforts to stop the opioid epidemic. I will continue to fight for additional emergency funding through the house appropriations process.
The passage of CARA and the adoption of Mooney-Kuster are important milestones in our fight to end the opioid epidemic, but our work is far from done. I remain committed to helping end the epidemic once and for all, and I look forward to my continued work with Granite Staters to make that happen.
As always, thanks for all that you do to make New Hampshire such a wonderful place to live.