Press Releases

Kuster, Fitzpatrick, Trone, Beutler Host Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force Roundtable on Pain Management

**The full roundtable discussion is available HERE**


Washington, D.C. — Today, the co-chairs of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force, Reps. Annie Kuster (D-NH), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), David Trone (D-MD), and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), hosted a virtual roundtable on pain management.


“In 2020, more than 93,000 Americans died of a drug overdose — this staggering loss of life is a tragic reminder of the urgent need to address the addiction epidemic,” said Rep. Kuster. “A critical part of ending this crisis is re-examining how we treat, and how Americans cope, with pain. I thank all of our panelists for joining us today and sharing their expertise, and I look forward to sharing the conclusions of today’s conversation with my colleagues.”


“Annual mortality from drug overdoses rose over 30% over the last year,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “Now, more than ever, it is essential that Americans are provided with alternative pain medications that will help curb the development of substance use disorders across the country. Thank you to all of the panelists who have taken the time to join this roundtable today and share their professional insights on confronting this very serious issue.”


“Substance use disorder often starts because someone is desperately in need of pain relief – whether that pain be physical or mental,” said Rep. Trone. “Understanding how to deal with pain and trauma is essential if we are going to seriously address the opioid epidemic. I want to thank my co-chairs for joining in this important conversation today and for the doctors and experts who joined us today for helping to educate Congress on this important topic.”


“Southwest Washington was facing an opioid crisis prior to the pandemic that has been magnified in the last year and a half,” said Rep. Herrera Beutler. “Today we took steps to understand the intersection of health interventions for chronic pain, addiction, and mental health. More than 20% of Americans will experience chronic pain, and we must work to find innovative ways to treat it while addressing the substance use disorder. It was immensely helpful to have this knowledgeable group of panelists join our Bipartisan Task Force to share their insights, and I look forward to working with my co-chairs on solutions to combat the addiction crisis and mental health challenges in America.”


“Motivated by the recognition that surgeons have an important role to play in the opioid crisis, we began our research at Dartmouth-Hitchcock on appropriate post-operative opioid prescribing,” said Richard J. Barth Jr. MD, Section Chief, General Surgery, Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Professor of Surgery, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. “Our studies demonstrated that through guideline directed prescribing and optimal excess opioid disposal, risk factors for opioid dependence and over-dose after surgery can be minimized. I thank Rep. Kuster and the co-chairs of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force for letting me speak to them today about our research, and for their continued efforts to end the addiction epidemic.”


The co-chairs heard from:


— Dr. Richard Barth, Section Chief, General Surgery, Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Professor of Surgery, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

— John V. Prunskis, M.D., FIPP Co-author Health and Human Services Best Practices Pain Task Force Final Report, DxTx Pain & Spine, Medical Director

— Dr. Robert D. Kerns, Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Psychology at Yale University.

—  Dr. Andrew Kolodny, Medical Director of Opioid Policy Research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management


The co-chairs were joined by fellow Task Force members including Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), and Lucy McBath (D-GA).



The Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force merges Trone’s Freshmen Working Group on Addiction and the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, which was co-chaired by Reps. Kuster and Fitzpatrick in the 116th Congress and founded by Rep. Kuster in 2015.


The purpose of the new Task Force is to combine efforts to make the most progress possible on addiction and mental health in the 117th Congress. The forthcoming 2021 Legislative Agenda will address these dual public health crises that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The group will host regular meetings with stakeholders, attend site visits, and create policies that will save lives.