Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire
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Kuster Hosts Opioid Regional Briefing during Visit to TRAILS Program in Claremont

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - 10:00am

Claremont, NH – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) gathered stakeholders from across Sullivan County to discuss her legislative agenda and the recent advancement of key bills targeting the opioid epidemic. As co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, Kuster recently helped introduce a legislative package of bipartisan bills, many of which passed the House last month during “Opioid Week,” a historic session during which the House passed 18 bills addressing different aspects of the epidemic.

“Last year, I held one of my first regional briefings on the opioid epidemic here in Claremont, and I am delighted to be back to share some of the exciting progress we’ve made in Congress over the past year,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “If we are to overcome the ongoing crisis, we need to come together as a society and structure our response around the understanding that substance use disorder is a chronic illness. I commend Superintendent Berry and the TRAILS program for recognizing that society is best served when individuals battling addiction are given the tools they need to rehabilitate and successfully reintegrate after serving their sentences. I thank everyone who joined me today for sharing their expertise, and I look forward to bringing their perspective with me back to Congress, where I will be working in the coming weeks to finalize legislation to provide critical resources to help overcome the opioid epidemic.”

During today’s visit, Kuster toured the Transitional Re-entry and Inmate Life Skills (TRAILS) Program at the Sullivan County Department of Corrections before sitting down with local leaders to discuss best practices, and hear from event attendees about how the federal government can best continue to support their efforts. In the briefing, Kuster met with Claremont Mayor Charlene Lovett, Claremont Police Chief Alexander Scott, Superintendent David Berry of the Sullivan County Department of Corrections, treatment providers, public health experts, and local officials, among others, to discuss the TRAILS program and other local efforts to get ahead of the opioid epidemic that is threatening communities in New Hampshire and across the country. The briefing also gave local experts and stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback to the Congresswoman’s legislative agenda and to learn more about pending legislation that will support their efforts on the ground in Sullivan County.

The briefing in Claremont came as Representative Kuster sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in support of a proposed rule change to raise the cap on the number of patients a physician can treat with medication-assisted treatment.  Current regulations prohibit physicians from treating more than 100 patients at a time with evidence-based treatment involving buprenorphine.  The HHS proposal would raise the cap to 200, expanding access to life-saving treatment for those struggling with substance use disorder.

Kuster has helped lead the fight to address the heroin and opioid crisis at the federal level and in New Hampshire, and she has been an outspoken advocate on the need to pass comprehensive legislation to adequately support law enforcement, treatment, and recovery efforts. This spring, Kuster brought the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic to New Hampshire for a field hearing to hear directly from local stakeholders. She has attended ride-alongs with law enforcement officials in Keene, Nashua,  and Franklin, providing her with a direct look at the challenges facing local police departments and the communities they serve, and she continues to hold a series of regional briefings around the district to ensure the voices of local stakeholders and affected community members are heard. In recognition of Kuster’s leadership in the effort to combat the opioid epidemic, House leadership recently appointed her to the conference Committee tasked with producing the final version of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).