Kuster: Much Work Remains to Tackle the Opioid Epidemic
(Washington, DC) – Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin and Opioid Task Force, released the following statement on a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed a dramatic increase in deaths due to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl nationally. Earlier this year, Kuster introduced the STOP (Surveillance and Testing of Opioids to Prevent) Fentanyl Deaths Act, which would create grant funding to assist states and municipalities in identifying fentanyl in both fatal and nonfatal drug overdoses. Kuster also helped pass the INTERDICT Act, which was signed into law this year and provides Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with screening devices, laboratory equipment, facilities, and personnel to detect and intercept fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.
“While there has been progress to expand access to long-term recovery and treatment, much work remains to tackle the opioid epidemic in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Kuster. “Today’s report by the CDC underscores the serious danger synthetic opioids pose to communities and the importance of getting these deadly drugs off our streets. It’s clear that this crisis requires continued diligence at the local, state, and federal level. In the new Congress, I’m committed to continuing to advocate for resources that will bolster support for those on the frontlines of the epidemic and better build the treatment infrastructure necessary to address the substance use crisis in the long-term.”
Kuster has pushed for increased funding for New Hampshire to address the opioid epidemic and helped announce $22.9 million in additional funding for the state. Earlier this year, Kuster introduced the Respond NOW Act, which would provide critical resources to those on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic. The Bipartisan Heroin and Opioid Task Force has been a driver of Congressional action to take on the opioid crisis. In addition to the polices included in the comprehensive opioid package, the Task Force successfully passed the VA Prescription Data Accountability Act, the INTERDICT Act, and most recently, the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act. The Task Force also successfully pushed for the inclusion of $1 billion in funding as part of the 21st Century Cures Act to address the opioid epidemic and helped advance $6 billion in new opioid funding as part of the FY 2018 government funding bill. Last Congress, 14 Task Force bills were signed into law as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).