Helping People Addicted to Opioids Part of Re-election Strategy of Some Republicans

Some Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate are basing part of their re-election strategies on bills aimed at helping people addicted to opioids, according to The New York Times.

The U.S. House, after overwhelmingly approving 18 bills last week aimed at addressing the nation’s opioid crisis, will work with the Senate to craft compromise legislation.

The bills include provisions for prescription drug monitoring programs and assistance to states that want to expand the availability of the opioid overdose drug naloxone. House Republicans in difficult re-election races have attached their names to some of the bills, the article notes.

The House bills will need to be reconciled with the Senate’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which passed in March. The Senate measure authorizes funds for various drug treatment and prevention programs for a wide range of people, including those in jail.

CARA expands prescription drug take-back programs and establishes monitoring to prevent over-prescribing of opioid painkillers. It would expand the availability of medication-assisted treatment, including in criminal justice settings, and would support treatment as an alternative to incarceration.

Lawmakers hope to send President Obama a compromise bill before Congress begins its summer recess in July.

House Democrats had offered an amendment to provide $600 million in emergency funding for the opioid bills. Republicans blocked the bill, saying funding will come when Congress passes its 2017 spending bills for federal agencies.

Senator Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio who is facing a tough re-election fight, said in a statement, “While I remain concerned that the House approach is not truly comprehensive, I am hopeful we can resolve our differences rather quickly. Heroin and prescription drugs are devastating our families and communities, and I remain committed to ensuring that we deliver a bill to the president’s desk that combats this epidemic in a comprehensive way.”

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