Legislators From Both Parties Focus on Deaths From Opioid Overdoses

Both Republicans and Democrats are focusing more attention on opioid overdose deaths, including those caused by heroin and prescription painkillers, according to The Hill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a Republican, and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, a Democrat, have asked the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to urge the Surgeon General to issue a report on the problem.

Markey told The Hill the issue “has to be bipartisan,” noting overdose deaths affect both urban and rural areas, as well as people of all socioeconomic levels. “Whether it’s Lexington, Massachusetts or Lexington, Kentucky, this epidemic knows no boundaries,” he said. “Senator McConnell and I believed that our response should know no political boundaries.”

McConnell and Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, introduced a bill in March that directed HHS to develop a plan to address the problem of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a group of problems that occur in newborns who are exposed to addictive opiate drugs while in the mother’s womb.

“This is a bipartisan issue that members of both parties have come together to fight head on,” McConnell said in a statement to The Hill.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a series of hearings on the problem, the article notes.

“There’s definitely more interest in it in Congress,” said Kyle Simon, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence in Washington. “We’re really encouraged by the congressional hearings.”

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    Carolyn James

    May 26, 2015 at 12:20 PM

    For over a year now, a bipartisan cohort of Senators has been working to advance the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) out of the judiciary committee and onto the Senate floor. This bill supports funding and other resources for the prevention and treatment of, as well as recovery from, opioid addiction (prescription and illicit drugs). I am proud to say that my home state’s senator, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), along with Rob Portman (R-OH), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) were the originators of this effort. The bill has been carefully vetted by people in the field and in the trenches–and addresses the actual needs of the prevention, treatment and recovery communities. True to it’s name, CARA is a comprehensive and thoughtful attempt to meet the challenges of opioid addiction. Many senators and congressmen from both parties have since added their names and support to this bill. Hopefully, it will be pushed out of committee and given a review and vote by the full Senate in the near future.

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