Barletta Bill to Battle Opioid Crisis Heads to the Senate
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which includes Medicaid, Medicare, and public health reforms to combat the opioid epidemic by advancing treatment and recovery initiatives, improving prevention, protecting communities, and increasing efforts to combat illicit synthetic drugs like fentanyl. Importantly, H.R. 6 also includes H.R. 5294, the Treating Barriers to Prosperity Act of 2018, bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) that would address the impacts of opioid addiction on labor force participation and economic development, and provide communities with the tools necessary to find solutions to this epidemic. Barletta voted in favor of H.R. 6, which passed the House by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 396 to 14.
“There isn’t a community across our country that hasn’t been impacted by the opioid epidemic,” Barletta said after passage. “In 2016 alone, 4,627 Pennsylvanians died due to an opioid overdose. We must have a strong, comprehensive response to the opioid epidemic that addresses not only access to treatment and prevention methods, but also the impact on economic development and access to jobs, and my bill does just that. The Treating Barriers to Prosperity Act will help communities battling the opioid epidemic recover the lost potential for economic growth, while also giving a leg up to those struggling with addiction by breaking down barriers to employment.”
More than two million Americans will suffer from addiction to opioids this year, while roughly 1,000 people are treated for opioid misuse in emergency departments per day, and an average of 115 people dying each day from similar misuse and opioid-related overdoses. Over the last two weeks the U.S. House of Representatives took significant action against these startling statistics, passing 58 pieces of opioid-related legislation focused on prevention, treatment and recovery, fighting fentanyl, and giving law enforcement tools to get illicit opioids off the streets.
H.R. 5294, which passed the House by a bipartisan voice vote last week as part of this effort, and was previously passed out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously in April, would clarify that Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) funding can be used to support programs designed to eliminate or reduce barriers to workforce development, attract and retain healthcare services, businesses, and workers, and develop relevant infrastructure, including broadband which can be used for telemedicine treatment.
Last week, Barletta joined several of his colleagues and House Leadership to share personal stories from their communities back home about the toll the opioid crisis has taken. Barletta told the story of a six-week-old infant who was accidentally suffocated by his mother when she was high on opioids. To watch Barletta speak at the press conference, click here.