McKinley: Congress Must Not Lose Sight of Opioid Crisis

On Second Anniversary of Landmark Opioid Legislation, McKinley Highlights Work to Be Done

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today marks the second anniversary of President Donald J. Trump signing landmark legislation to fight the opioid epidemic – the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) – into law. The bipartisan bill was a sweeping response to the opioid epidemic that is devastating communities across West Virginia and the nation.

The legislation was the product of significant bipartisan work on both sides of the Capitol and included four bills championed by U.S. Representative David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-W.Va.).

While the SUPPORT Act has made a difference and helped save lives, the opioid epidemic still rages – and has been made even worse by the COVID-19 pandemic this year.

“Two years ago, Congress showed we could work together across party lines to address a significant national emergency – the opioid crisis,” McKinley said. “However, we should not rest on our laurels. There is still more that can be done. Too many families are still being torn apart by the horrors of opioid addiction.”

“While Congress and the public are rightfully focused on addressing the public health and economic challenges we face due to COVID-19, we can’t forget the families struggling with addiction,” McKinley said. “The opioid epidemic has not gone away. In fact, across the country overdose deaths have only increased.”

“Our team is continuing to fight for more funding for West Virginia and working on new legislation to improve access to treatment and prevent drug companies from pill dumping in the future,” added McKinley. “We can walk and chew gum at the same time. Congress must place a priority on addressing this crisis.”

This year, Rep. McKinley has introduced two bills aimed at addressing the opioid crisis:

  • The Block, Report, And Suspend Suspicious Shipments Act, H.R. 3878, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to require drug manufacturers, distributors and other DEA registrants to both report and stop any suspicious drug orders. This legislation also addresses a recommendation from the committee’s opioid distribution report.
  • The TREATS, H.R. 7593, would extend telehealth flexibilities by making permanent key waivers, including the ability to prescribe Medication Assisted Therapies (MAT) and other necessary drugs without needing a prior in-person visit and the ability to bill Medicare for audio-only telehealth services.

So far this Congress the House under Speaker Pelosi has not made addressing the opioid crisis a priority and held zero oversight hearings on the implementation of H.R. 6.

Background:

The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) passed the House overwhelmingly on September 28. The Senate then sent the bill to the President’s desk on October 3 and it was signed into law on October 24, 2018. 

The package includes four bills championed by McKinley:

  • H.R. 5176, the Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms (POWER) Act: This bill was authored by McKinley and cosponsored by Rep. Michael Doyle (D-PA). The bill provides resources for hospitals to develop protocols on discharging patients who have overdosed. This will help avoid repeat overdoses by connecting patients with peer-support specialists and referring them to treatment and other services.
  • H.R. 5197, the Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) in the Emergency Department Act: This bill was authored by McKinley and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ). The bill establishes a demonstration program to test alternative pain management protocols to limit to use of opioids in hospital emergency departments and reduce the over-prescribing of opioids.
  • H.R. 5695, Emmett’s Law: This bill educates health care providers about information on substance abuse and overdoses they can share with family members.
  • H.R. 5628, Access to Increased Drug Disposal Act: This bill will help improve access to safe drug disposal programs for prescription medicine. Easy access of leftover prescription drugs is one of the leading pathways to opioid addiction.

Additionally, McKinley is a co-sponsor of 13 other bills that were included in H.R. 6.

To learn more about the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) please click here.

You can watch McKinley’s floor speech in support of H.R. 6 in June by clicking here.

The SUPPORT Act was not the first Energy and Commerce Committee-led response to the nation’s opioid crisis. Previous Congressional efforts have included the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act in the 114th Congress. In addition, billions of dollars were appropriated to boost programs that fight, treat, and stop substance abuse, and support access to mental health services in the 115th Congress.

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