House Passes Bill To Fight Drug Epidemic
On Friday, the House of Representatives approved legislation which is intended to battle the nation’s drug epidemic. This year, the bill was considered to be among the top priorities.
If the near-unanimous vote of 407-5 is any indicator, the legislation will also sweep the Senate and head to Obama for signing.
Fred Upton (R-Mich), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman:
“ the most serious and comprehensive effort ever undertaken by this body to tackle this problem.”
Democrats had previously opposed the bill, stating the funding was too low, but dropped their opposition at the last minute.
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), House Energy and Commerce Committee:
“It is not perfect, and does not do nearly enough from a funding perspective, but it makes some important steps that will allow us to begin to address the opioid addiction crisis that is impacting our nation.”
On Friday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also supported the bill. She hoped the bill “is just the first step” and that the GOP will agree to more funds “in the very, very near future.”
In addition to new funding, other measures of importance include increasing access to the anti-overdose medication naloxone. Also, there will be a new policy which allows doctors to prescribe more medication to treat addiction.
Also, Democrats noted that more funding has been promised from the House Appropriations Committee later this year. The proposed health spending bill will contain $500 million to fight opioid addiction.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) killed an unprecedented 28,000 people in 2014. More than half of all opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid, which equates to 52 deaths per day.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology