RECAP: Health Subcommittee Field Hearing in Gettysburg, PA

Jun 09, 2023

Addressing the Opioid Crisis and Examining the SUPPORT Act Five Years Later

Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Congressman John Joyce, M.D. (R-PA) today led Health Subcommittee members in a field hearing in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Experts in the community highlighted why we must strengthen programs that help people manage addiction, find hope, and discover opportunities to live a full life.

Below are excerpts and highlights of prepared witness testimony:

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Mr. Michael Straley:

“My wife Robin and I were scheduled to have dinner with our daughter Leah Renee Straley on Thursday, March 1, 2018, at a Delray Beach, Florida, restaurant. Instead, we had her memorial service in Hagerstown, Maryland. Leah Renee Straley passed on Valentine’s Day 2018. Her cause of death: fentanyl poisoning. She is forever 26. Every day there is grief.

“Leah’s addiction started when she was 14 years old—much of it attributed to peer pressure. It started with marijuana, in her case, the drug of choice, and the gateway drug that led to more potent drugs—cocaine, heroin, painkillers and ultimately fentanyl. We are a middle-class family. She was raised in church, had a loving family and friends whose parents were business and shop owners. Addiction doesn’t discriminate.”


Grief isn’t the absence of love, it’s proof that love is still there. And it will be always there. My wife and I started Leah’s Legacy Foundation in 2019, a non-profit, committed to helping women in recovery. We provide Leah Legacy purple bags filled with over 40 essentials to women in sober living. We share Leah’s journey and ours as grieving parents.”


“We have turned misery into a mission. Calamity into a cause. We want to live our life with a purpose and to honor our beloved Leah Renee Straley. Families are hurting. Families are grieving. In 2021, 29 families lost a loved one to an overdose in Franklin County. In 2022, that number rose to 32. On average, 14 people die EACH DAY of an overdose in Pennsylvania. Over the past decade, we have lost over a half million people to the overdose epidemic in this country.”

CLICK HERE to read Mr. Straley’s full prepared testimony.

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Dr. Mitchell Crawford, D.O.:

“The SUPPORT Act was an excellent start. But we have so much more work to do. In 2021, nearly 108,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, 65% of whom died from fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances.

“America’s addiction crisis cuts across all barriers: age, race, gender and socioeconomic status. It touches nearly every American in some way, including those of us in this room—including me. I lost my sister, who was a great person and whom I loved dearly, to an overdose in 2015.

“I was in medical school at the time, and I remember the complicated emotions of watching her struggle while also, frankly, not knowing how best to help her. Ironically, despite addiction being such a deadly disease when untreated, there is still very limited training on the topic in our medical education systems even today.”


“The stark reality is that the number of adults in Central Pennsylvania with behavioral health and/or substance use disorders is increasing and surpassing the capacity of behavioral health and primary care providers to treat them. It is critical that patients have continued access to care, including clinically appropriate controlled substances, especially in the face of a growing overdose and suicide epidemics exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are in the midst of an opioid and addiction epidemic and our friends and neighbors are dying in record numbers.”

CLICK HERE to read Dr. Crawford’s full prepared testimony.

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Reading Township Police Department Chief William Ceravola:

“None of these cases ever seemed to really affect me until one day I showed up [to the morgue] and there was a pregnant female there. I learned that day they also examine the fetus. I'll never forget that little boy that never had a chance at life. It turns out that his mother overdosed.

“I know there is a stigma with overdose deaths that it was their own fault, and it happens to other people, or they've had a poor upbringing. It can't happen to smart, well-educated, wealthy people, right? Well, the female that day was a nurse that worked in hospital. Think about that for a second. How can that be?

“Well, I've also seen police officers that get addicted too. I personally had to dismiss an officer that got addicted to pain killers from an off-duty injury. I wonder why he didn't just come to me and say he had a problem. Well, it's because no one wants to be labeled.”


“I believe that educating the public and getting Narcan into the community has been a great success. I pray that we can build on this success and save more lives. I can attest that we're not just saving the users' lives. We are changing the lives of some that aren't even born yet. I still wonder what that little boy would be today if someone in the hospital had found his mother and saved them.”

CLICK HERE to read Chief Ceravola’s full prepared testimony.

Highlights from Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Members:

Health Subcommittee Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY):

“The overdose crisis continues to tragically claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. In 2022, the U.S. sadly reached a historic high of 107,000 overdose deaths.

“For context, more than 33,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdose in 2015. This means in less than a decade, there was shocking 224% growth in drug overdose deaths.”


“This Committee has acted on a number of occasions, in a bipartisan fashion, to address the overdose crisis. This includes passing the 21st Century Cures Act, the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-being Act, the HALT Fentanyl Act, and the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. The SUPPORT Act is why we are here today. We are working to examine the programs within SUPPORT Act, which expires this year.” 

Congressman John Joyce (R-PA):

“We are going back to Washington with the great information you have provided us for today to discuss how [the Support Act] should be reauthorized, how it might be altered, how it could be improved.”


“In 2022 alone, the DEA seized almost 379 million doses of fentanyl, which is enough to kill every man, woman, and child in the United States. And that’s just what was seized, what we were able to capture. That’s not what came through and ended up on the streets throughout the United States.”

Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA):

“I have a large rural district in Appalachia, and in part of my district there’s a number of suboxone clinics. What they have found is that it has become a street drug and that some of the patients who are there will take some of their dosage and they will sell some of their dosage.”

More from Rep. Griffith.

Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-IN):

“On fentanyl, it’s coming from China, to Mexico, through cartels, to the United States of America, and killing our citizens. That’s not my opinion, that’s what’s happening.”


“The scientists in China, primarily China, will literally change one little molecule on the fentanyl. Then, it technically may not be illegal in the United States, and they can bring it into the United States legally, unless we have fentanyl analogs scheduled as a Schedule 1.”

NOTE: To address this crisis, the House passed the HALT Fentanyl Act in May with a bipartisan vote of 289-133. The HALT Fentanyl Act will make the temporary class-wide scheduling order for fentanyl-related substances permanent and give law enforcement the tools they need to keep Americans safe.

Congressman Jay Obernolte (R-CA):

“This has been an incredibly poignant hearing for me. I represent an extremely rural section of California... in the last 18 months, my district has experienced an over 600% increase in the number of fentanyl related deaths.

“My most difficult day in nineteen years of public office was last fall when I had a constituent lose both of her sons in the same afternoon to the same fentanyl poisoning incident.”


“I wish we would stop using the word overdose. The vast majority of these incidents when someone dies from fentanyl, is not an overdose, it is a poisoning.”

CLICK HERE to watch the full field hearing.