Barletta Bill to Combat Opioid Epidemic Signed into Law
WASHINGTON – Today, President Donald J. Trump signed into law H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which combats the opioid epidemic by advancing treatment and recovery initiatives, improving prevention, and protecting communities. Importantly, this comprehensive legislation includes H.R. 5294, the Treating Barriers to Prosperity Act of 2018, a bipartisan bill introduced by Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) to address the impacts of opioid addiction on labor force participation and economic development in the Appalachian Region, which includes more than 50 counties in Pennsylvania.
“Every community across the country has been impacted by the opioid crisis, but it has disproportionally devastated the Appalachian Region, which includes much of Pennsylvania,” Barletta said. “Just last year, over 5,000 Pennsylvanians died from drug-related overdoses. Many of those individuals were 25 to 44 years old and in their prime working years, creating a significant challenge to economic growth in communities hit hardest by this epidemic. With the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse in the U.S. estimated to be $78.5 billion a year, we must help the areas hit hardest by these economic losses.”
Barletta’s Treating Barriers to Prosperity Act of 2018 addresses the negative impacts of opioid addiction on labor force participation and economic development. Specifically, the bill clarifies that funding provided through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) 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.
“My legislation will help these communities by giving them access to ARC funding for everything from attracting doctors to putting in broadband for telemedicine, spurring economic growth and helping those struggling with addiction by breaking down barriers to employment,” Barletta said. “I applaud President Trump for signing this important legislation into law and giving communities across Pennsylvania the tools they need to combat the opioid crisis.”
On July 31, Barletta held a roundtable in Somerset, PA to discuss the impact of the opioid crisis in Appalachia, and included Congressman Keith Rothfus, representatives from the ARC and the Economic Development Administration, state and local officials, and private sector experts. The roundtable focused on the ways in which the opioid epidemic has created barriers to economic growth and explored real-world solutions that will give communities across Pennsylvania the tools they need to overcome them.