Kuster Statement on Senate Passage of Opioid Legislation
(Concord, NH) - Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin and Opioid Task Force, released the following statement on Senate passage of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. The legislation will need to be reconciled with the legislation passed earlier this year in the House to address the opioid epidemic. Kuster helped to shepherd through provisions in the House important to expanding access to treatment, long-term recovery and prevention. The House passed H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, also included Kuster’s legislation, the STOP Fentanyl Deaths Act. The STOP Fentanyl Deaths Act would create grant funding to assist states and municipalities in identifying fentanyl in both fatal and nonfatal drug overdoses. The provision would also create a pilot program allowing states to develop unique “point of use” drug testing programs.
"I'm pleased that the Senate has acted to move forward legislation to take on the opioid epidemic," said Kuster. "As Congress reconciles the differences between the Senate and House bills, I will advocate for the inclusion of provisions that will have the greatest positive impact on the ground in New Hampshire. I'm encouraged that the Senate bill includes a reauthorization of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and am hopeful that House and Senate leadership can agree to fully support authority for nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to administer buprenorphine, which is critical to addressing the opioid epidemic in rural communities. I'll also fight for the inclusion of my bipartisan STOP Fentanyl Deaths Act, which provides important authorities to take on synthetic opioids, which are driving this crisis."
Kuster was a co-sponsor of seven additional pieces of legislation that passed as part of comprehensive legislation earlier this year in the House, including the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act, the Ensuring Access to Quality Sober Living Act, Jessie’s Law, the Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act, and the Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act. Additionally, two pieces of legislation on the Task Force’s legislative agenda cosponsored by Kuster were passed, the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act and the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act.
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. The Task Force 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).