Press Release

50+ Members Testify Before #SubHealth, Sharing Stories and Legislative Ideas to Combat #OpioidCrisis


10.11.17

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on health, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) today held a “Member Day,” allowing members both on and off the Energy and Commerce Committee to share local and personal stories and highlight potential legislative solutions to combat the opioid crisis.


Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) delivers remarks during a Member Day panel

Rep. John Katko (R-NY) highlighted a bill he authored, H.R. 2851, the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act of 2017, which will give local, state, and federal law enforcement the critical tools to identify deadly synthetic drugs and those who are trafficking them. Rep. Katko stated, “This year, Syracuse area hospitals saw a record number of overdoses due to synthetic drug abuse. In May, over 15 individuals had overdosed on synthetic drugs and were taken to the ER in the span of 24 hours. …Toxic, synthetic drugs are designed to mimic street drugs like marijuana, LSD, cocaine, ecstasy, and other hard drugs. They can be more potent than the real thing and often times are more deadly.”

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) spoke to his legislation, H.R. 449, the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act of 2017, which would require the Surgeon General to report to Congress on the growing public health effects of the increased use of synthetic drugs by young adults. Rep. Jeffries also cited the overwhelming presence of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) shared the story behind his legislation, Jessie’s Law (H.R. 1554), where a young patient had sought and received treatment to help her beat her opioid addiction, but then when under the care of a doctor for an injury, she was prescribed opioids despite flagging her history with addiction. H.R. 1554 would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create standards for hospitals and physicians on how a patient’s records display information regarding their history with opioid addiction.

Rep. Joe Kennedy, III (D-MA) spoke to the epidemic, which he labels as “personal, painful, and petrifying.” Speaking to efforts to combat the crisis, Rep. Kennedy stated, “There is no silver bullet to this, but there are ideas out there that are, I think, genuine, of widespread support, and I hope that will deserve this committee’s attention going forward.”

The statistics are astounding at every level. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) shared some from her state of Indiana.


Chairman Walden testifies on the opioid crisis

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) flagged the devastating national statistics, saying, “Conservative estimates forecast more than 90 Americans die from opioid overdoses each day, while more than 1,000 are treated each day for abusing opioids. In 2016 alone, more than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, and in Oregon alone, more people died last year from drug overdoses than from car accidents.”

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) shared sobering statistics about her home state, saying, “In many ways, Delaware reflects our nation. Geography, we’re urban and rural. We mirror the country in terms of demographics. And unfortunately, like the rest of the nation, we are facing a growing opioid crisis. Just yesterday, our death toll from this horrible disease rose to 171 Delawareans for the year. That might not seem like a lot to some, but to put that into perspective, that many deaths in a state the size of Delaware made us number 13 per capita in the country last year for opioid overdose deaths, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.”

Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA) highlighted his time serving as a District Attorney, where he began a heroin task force, saying, “We’d go to unattended deaths, would find out that the person there had no criminal record. They started their addiction with prescription drugs, went to heroin – it was cheaper, more available. Then they die. I consoled parents who lost a child, I worked with grandparents who were raising their children. In my own family, I lost a cousin to an overdose, right after he was coming out of detox – most dangerous time. On a brighter note, I have another family member who is a decade and a half into recovery. So, I’ve seen this first hand.”

Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) shared the heartbreaking story of constituents where addiction has torn a family apart, separating the parents from their young children. Among those separated from the parents was the couple’s infant child, who was born addicted to opioids.

Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV) also touched on babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), highlighting his legislation from last Congress, the NAS Healthy Babies Act, which became law under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) recalled some of the committee’s earliest work on the opioid crisis, several years ago, highlighting a former colleague’s steadfast interest in the issue. “Ms. Mack brought this important topic to the forefront of our subcommittee some years ago, she was the chairman of the subcommittee and I was the ranking member. At first, Mr. Chairman, I thought Mary was a little bit overreacting to the opioid crisis in Florida because it had touched her family personally. But after we had hearings and I looked into it, I came to the conclusion that she was not overreacting, that it was indeed an epidemic – not just in Florida, but all across the country.”

Several members highlighted the important provisions included in CARA, which includes 11 committee bills. Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stressed the importance of ensuring CARA’s provisions are fully implemented. The full Energy and Commerce Committee will get an update on CARA implementation in two weeks.

House Minority Leader Pelosi labeled the opioid crisis a “public health catastrophe,” calling on members from both sides of the aisle to come together again to identify solutions that will bring relief to folks in our communities suffering.

 

A full list of today’s participants is included below:

  1. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)
  2. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
  3. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN)
  4. Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN)
  5. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL)
  6. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC)
  7. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA)
  8. Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA)
  9. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)
  10. Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA)
  11. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL)
  12. Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY)
  13. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT)
  14. Rep. John Faso (R-NY)
  15. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
  16. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
  17. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ)
  18. Rep. Karen Handel (R-GA)
  19. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
  20. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC)
  21. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)
  22. Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV)
  23. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH)
  24. Rep. John Katko (R-NY)
  25. Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA)
  26. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA)
  27. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ)
  28. Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH)
  29. Rep. Mia Love (R-UT)
  30. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM)
  31. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ)
  32. Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS)
  33. Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA)
  34. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)
  35. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ)
  36. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ)
  37. Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN)
  38. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
  39. Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME)
  40. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE)
  41. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY)
  42. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA)
  43. Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC)
  44. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL)
  45. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH)
  46. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY)
  47. Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH)
  48. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)
  49. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI)
  50. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR)
  51. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN)
  52. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)
  53. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH)
  54. Rep. David Young (R-IA)

For more information on today’s Member Day and archived webcast, click HERE. To watch the committee’s archived Facebook Live broadcast of the event, click HERE.

###

Press Release