Barletta Requests Update on Status of Law to Help Opioid-Addicted Babies

Mar 20, 2017
Press Release
Continues Efforts to Combat Epidemic: Baby Born Addicted Every 25 Minutes in U.S.

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) recently joined Congressman Evan Jenkins (WV-3) in writing a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price requesting an update on provisions signed into law last year to protect babies born addicted to opioids.  In response to a Reuters report that most states are failing to comply with a federal law requiring them to establish safe care plans for babies born addicted to opioids, Barletta introduced the Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act, which requires that states receiving federal funds for child protective services comply with federal law and enact certain guidelines for the welfare of children exposed to opioids. 

“I consistently hear about the opioid epidemic when I am home in Pennsylvania,” Barletta said.  “No segment of our community is safe from the scourge of opioid addiction.  Sadly, that includes babies who are born addicted.  “Every 25 minutes in this country, a baby is born having already been exposed to drugs and suffering from opioid withdrawal.  I am proud to have worked on legislation that will help bring so many lives back from the brink of disaster, particularly those of the most vulnerable amongst us, and I thank Rep. Evan Jenkins for his commitment to ensuring it is implemented in a timely and effective manner.”

“Since day one, I have worked to make sure that newborns impacted by the drug crisis have a chance at a healthy and happy start to life,” Jenkins said.  “That includes safe care plans, which ensure that states are monitoring the welfare and wellbeing of these vulnerable babies.  Since some states are failing to comply with these requirements, it’s imperative that we continue to hold them accountable.  I am proud to work on this issue with Rep. Lou Barletta, a tireless champion on the issue of safe care plans for newborns.  All children deserve a safe environment where they can thrive and grow.”

Barletta’s bill aims to hold states accountable by:

  • Requiring the department of Health and Human Services to review and confirm that states have put in place policies required under the 1974 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).
  • Strengthening protections for infants born with illegal substance exposure by clarifying the intent of safe care plans.
  • Improving accountability related to the care of infants and their families by requiring additional information on the incidents of infants born with illegal substance exposure and their care.
  • Providing states with best practices for developing plans to keep infants and their caregivers healthy and safe.
  • Encouraging the use of information made available through other child welfare laws in verifying CAPTA compliance.

The letter to Sec. Price requests that HHS provide an update on the department’s implementation of these provisions. 

“I was happy to see members from both parties come together to pass these commonsense reforms,” Barletta said.  “This law will help to ensure that children, mothers, and their families have the help they need and the care they deserve.  I look forward to working with the administration to continue fighting against the problem of opioid addiction.”

Click here to view the letter as a PDF.