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House Takes Action to Combat the Opioid Crisis

June 22, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) spoke on the House floor earlier today in support of H.R. 6, SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, the final bill in Congress's two week, bipartisan effort to pass legislation to combat the opioid crisis. Whip Scalise highlighted a Slidell, Louisiana family whose son was born addicted to opioids, a syndrome called NAS, as a result of his mother's battle with addiction. Scalise rose in support of an amendment to H.R. 6 that will require a report on opioid prescribing practices and misuse during pregnancy and non-opioid pain management alternatives for pregnant mothers in an effort to prevent further NAS cases.

In a coordinated effort between House committees, including the Energy and Commerce Committee, which Whip Scalise serves on, the House passed this and dozens of other bills that together take a comprehensive approach to solving this epidemic.

Click here or on the image below to watch Whip Scalise's remarks.

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for yielding and for leading on this important issue. I rise in strong support of my friend from Utah's amendment. As he mentioned, Mr. Speaker, you look at this crisis in our country, and I'm so glad that Congress Is taking a wide array of action to address the opioid crisis in our country, because it doesn't just affect one community or another.

"Everybody might think mine is the only problem. Then you talk to other members of Congress from around the country and you find out they are experiencing the same kind of crisis. It's widespread. It's killing people every single day. But as we're talking about on this amendment, Mr. Speaker, we're talking about children. Children that are born to a mother that's addicted to opioids.

"I highlight Kemper, a young boy from my district in Slidell, Louisiana. He was born addicted to opioids because his mother, while she was pregnant, was addicted to opioids herself. Now, I wish that this was the only time that it had happened. Fortunately, for all of us, Kemper is now a healthy young boy, but he spent his first 11 days of life in the hospital fighting to beat a drug addiction that was not created, of course, on his own. We like to think that this might be an isolated example, but, Mr. Speaker, this example highlights something the Centers for Disease Control has noted. That is once every 25 minutes in America a baby is born addicted to opioids. Once every 25 minutes. That's how widespread it is, just for babies that are born.

"When we talk about this entire package of bills, and today H.R. 6 is going to pull together 50 different bills covering many different parts of this problem, it's an incredibly bipartisan effort. I know, Mr. Speaker, so often we hear about the partisan wrangling in Congress and clearly there are dividing lines on some high-profile issues. But this an issue where Republicans and Democrats have come together.

"And I want to thank my friends from both side of the aisle for recognizing this problem and coming together with a bipartisan way to solve it. This is going to give real tools to our communities so that they can combat this at every different level we're seeing it, including treatment, including law enforcement to stop these deadly drugs from getting on the streets so that more babies like Kemper are not born addicted to opioids. I encourage my colleagues to support this amendment and the underlying package of bills."

Read what those on the front lines of this battle in Southeast Louisiana have to say about this comprehensive legislation:

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith:
“As law enforcement officers, we have a unique role of combatting the opioid crisis on two fronts. First, by arresting criminals who supply and sell these drugs and second, by assisting victims who  seek treatment.  The work being done by Congressman Scalise and his colleagues in Congress is critical to improving and aiding our ongoing efforts to get illicit drugs off our streets and find real solutions for victims of this epidemic."

Dr. Lee Hamm, Dean of Tulane University School of Medicine and Senior Vice President:
“Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for U.S. adults over 50. The package of bills passed recently by the House of Representatives represents a willingness to work with the health care community to implement workable solutions to curb the abuse of prescription painkillers fueling the opioid crisis. At Tulane, we are teaching future doctors safer methods to treat chronic pain to prevent potential abuse. Our researchers are also working with SE LA Veterans Health Care System to develop a new powerful painkiller that could be a safer, non-addictive alternative to morphine. Tulane University looks forward to continuing to work with Majority Whip Scalise and other congressional leaders on this important issue."

St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister:
“We appreciate everything that Congress is doing to help fight the opioid epidemic that has a stranglehold on so many in our community. We are especially thankful for Congressman Steve Scalise’s help and leadership in fighting for more resources to combat this hideous addiction, which continues to take lives everyday. Congressman Scalise has always stepped up to the plate when the federal government was able to assist in helping local governments solve problems and tackle issues. For that we are eternally grateful.”

Dr. Richard Guthrie, Medical Director for Quality, Safety, and Oversight of Opioid Policy and Crisis Response for Ochsner Health System:
"The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act is a comprehensive approach to the opioid crisis that will reduce the likelihood of individuals developing a dependency on opioids and expand access to treatment for patients that do become dependent on opioids. The legislation will also help with efforts by health systems to address the crisis. As an example, Ochsner has reduced the use of opioids in the emergency department by 30 percent and has created new treatment programs for patients."

"We thank Representative Scalise along with other leaders and members of the House of Representatives for developing this important legislation, which provides a strong measure of the help and resources that are needed for patients, healthcare providers and communities to effectively respond to the opioid crisis."

Background:

Over the last two weeks, the House passed more than 70 bills that have been packaged into H.R. 6 – the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act. These bipartisan efforts build on two major legislative initiatives that were enacted in the 114th Congress, known as the 21st Century Cures Act and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), and will complement the $4 billion included in the FY 2018 Omnibus that was dedicated to fight this crisis.

The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act will help our communities fight this epidemic from multiple angles.

  • Treatment and Recovery: expands access to improved treatment and recovery services.
  • Prevention: encourages non-addictive opioid alternatives for pain management and improves data that will help at-risk patients.
  • Protecting Communities: gives law enforcement tools and federal resources to get dangerous drugs out of our communities.

Find a more detailed summary of H.R. 6 here.

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