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E&C Readies Two-Track Push to Combat the Opioid Crisis


02.20.18

WASHINGTON, DC The Wall Street Journal reports today that the Energy and Commerce Committee will begin legislative hearings on Feb. 28.

“It’s my top priority as chairman of the committee to get rid of this deadly epidemic,” Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) told The Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal writes, “…Two additional hearings will be held in March as lawmakers seek to push a measure through the House by the end of May. Republican committee leaders are already talking with Democrats and the Trump administration about the initiative and have received a positive response, Mr. Walden said.”

In addition to #SubHealth’s legislative push, set to begin next week, #SubOversight will continue with its ongoing investigation examining alleged pill dumping in West Virginia. The week of March 19, #SubOversight has invited the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to testify about its efforts in West Virginia, and is awaiting confirmation from the agency that they will appear.

Just last week, bipartisan committee leaders again probed the nation’s “big three” distributors, as part of its investigation. The letters to McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen posed more than 70 questions and included more than 40 requests for documents about their efforts during the height of the opioid epidemic.


House Republicans Plan Legislative Hearings As First Step to Fight Opioid Crisis

House Republicans will begin a series of legislative hearings next week as the first step in an effort to pass bipartisan bills tackling the opioid crisis.

The plan from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which will hold the first hearing on Feb. 28, will likely require additional funding from Congress, lawmakers said. Bills to be considered will focus on law enforcement, public health and prevention, and insurance coverage issues.

“It’s my top priority as chairman of the committee to get rid of this deadly epidemic,” committee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R., Ore.) said in an interview. “There’s going to be money—more money than has ever been spent.”

Two additional hearings will be held in March as lawmakers seek to push a measure through the House by the end of May. Republican committee leaders are already talking with Democrats and the Trump administration about the initiative and have received a positive response, Mr. Walden said.

“There’s no silver bullet,” said Rep. Gregg Harper (R., Miss.), chair of the House Administration Committee. “This is really a multiyear, multi-Congress review and attack. There is a desire to help people. This is not a bipartisan issue—it’s a nonpartisan issue.”

The first hearing will examine law enforcement, including a bill from Rep. John Katko (R., N.Y.) would make it easier for certain offshoots of synthetic drugs to be categorized as controlled substances. The legislation has been opposed by civil rights groups that say it would result in overly harsh minimum prison sentences.

The committee will also consider a bill from Reps. Tim Walberg (R., Mich.) and Debbie Dingell (D., Mich.) that ensures doctors can get details of a patient’s past substance abuse history if consent is given.

“We’ll start off with bills mostly on enforcement,” Rep. Michael Burgess (R., Texas) said in an interview. He added that legislation must ensure rural counties have the tools and information they need to combat the crisis.

At the same time, the committee will continue pursuing investigations into wholesale distributors who have provided oxycodone and other opioid pills in significant amounts, especially in rural areas, that can wind up on the black market. A hearing the week of March 19 will take place before the subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

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