Kuster Invites Superintendent of Merrimack County Department of Corrections to Attend the State of the Union
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02), founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, announced that Ross Cunningham, Superintendent of the Merrimack County Department of Corrections, will be her guest at next week’s State of the Union Address. Cunningham has worked to reduce drug related recidivism by improving access to medication assisted treatment (MAT) for justice-involved Granite Staters with substance use disorder.
“I’m proud that Superintendent Cunningham will join me in Washington as my guest for the State of the Union Address,” said Kuster. “I deeply respect Mr. Cunningham’s extensive experience in our justice system and I am grateful for his dedication to ensuring vulnerable Granite Staters with substance use disorder can access the treatment they need. While we’ve made progress in our fight to combat the opioid epidemic in New Hampshire and across the country, we have more work to do. Prevention, treatment and recovery go hand in hand with law enforcement in addressing substance misuse – we must end the cycle of addiction and incarceration. I’m glad to host Mr. Cunningham to signal our shared commitment to curbing substance use disorder and supporting those who struggle with addiction.”
“I am honored to be Representative Kuster's guest at the State of the Union,” said Cunningham. “I support her continued efforts to advocate for some of our most vulnerable constituents in the New Hampshire County Jails through work on Medicaid in jails.”
In 2015, Rep. Kuster founded the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, which has been a driver of Congressional action to take on the opioid epidemic. In 2017, Kuster and the Task Force hosted Mr. Cunningham in Washington, DC for a roundtable on drug-related recidivism. Kuster joined with her colleagues last year to introduce H.R. 3496, the Community Re-Entry through Addiction Treatment to Enhance (CREATE) Opportunities Act, which would help expand access to MAT for justice-involved individuals. In August, Kuster reintroduced the Humane Correctional Health Care Act, which would repeal the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion that strips health coverage from Medicaid enrollees who are involved in the criminal justice system. The legislation would increase the justice-involved population’s access to quality coverage and care needed to help them successfully return to their communities, saving state and taxpayer dollars.