Press Releases

Kuster, Pappas Question Law Enforcement on Evolving Addiction Crisis in New Hampshire


**Last year, Rep. Kuster reintroduced legislation to expand the justice-involved population’s access to quality coverage and care needed to successfully return to their communities**


Manchester, N.H. — Today, Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02), founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force, and Rep. Chris Pappas (NH-01) participated in a field hearing entitled, “Addressing the Evolving Threat of Illegal Drug Trafficking to Our Communities.” During the hearing, hosted by Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kuster and Pappas questioned government experts from the Drug Enforcement Agency, Customs and Border Patrol, and New Hampshire Department of Justice and State Police about the need to address both the supply of illicit drugs and demand through better access to treatment of substance use disorder for real progress on the fentanyl crisis.


Earlier this Congress, Rep. Kuster reintroduced the Humane Correctional Health Care Act, legislation to repeal the so-called Medicaid Inmate Exclusion (MIE), which strips health coverage from Medicaid enrollees who are involved in the criminal justice system, decreasing access to care and shifting that cost burden to states and counties instead. This legislation would increase the justice-involved population’s access to quality coverage and care needed to help them successfully return to their communities — including treatment for mental health and substance use disorders — and save state and taxpayer dollars.


“Over the past seven years, our country has taken great strides towards understanding and addressing the addiction epidemic, with leaders from across the political and geographical spectrum coming together to make a change,” said Rep. Kuster, founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force. “I am proud to be leading this charge in the House of Representatives and thank Senator Hassan for hosting this field hearing today to highlight the importance of the efforts of those on the frontlines in New Hampshire. I will continue working in Congress to stop the trafficking of illicit drugs into our communities, and improve access to support and treatment for those suffering from addiction.”


“I want to thank Senator Hassan, Congresswoman Kuster, and our partners in local, state, and federal law enforcement who joined us for this field hearing today to discuss how we can continue to combat drug trafficking and save the lives of our friends, family, and neighbors,” said Rep. Pappas. “The losses our communities continue to face are staggering and heartbreaking. That is why we must do all we can to support the work of law enforcement and provide the tools and resources to bring traffickers to justice and help create pathways for people to have a healthy and safe future.”


Rep. Annie Kuster has been a leader in the House of Representatives to address the overdose crisis. Last year, she introduced the STOP Fentanyl Act, which supports a comprehensive public health and safety approach to the addiction epidemic through enhanced public health surveillance of fentanyl-related substances, expanded access to public health trainings for law enforcement handling fentanyl-related substances, and improved access to overdose reversal drugs and medication-assisted treatment. This legislation is included in the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force’s 2021 Legislative Agenda released last year.


Last week, Congressman Pappas introduced the bipartisan Save Americans from the Fentanyl Emergency Act of 2022, or SAFE Act of 2022, to permanently schedule all fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs to ensure law enforcement can keep them off the streets. Pappas secured significant funding for New Hampshire law enforcement in the recent government funding package passed on March 9th.


Pappas also introduced the Establishing Accreditation Grants for Law Enforcement (EAGLE) Act to authorize $10 million in funding for small and mid-sized police departments to earn or renew accreditation, as well as the Invest to Protect Act, bipartisan legislation that will secure funding for small police departments to improve training and standards, recruit and retain officers, acquire body camera data storage, and provide mental health resources for officers.