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#ForwardWithSUPPORT ➡ Griffith, Mullin, and Walberg Highlight Progress Made, Work Ahead, on Opioid Crisis


WASHINGTON, DC – The Committee-led SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act was signed into law on October 24, 2018, to help combat the nationwide opioid crisis. This represented the largest legislative effort to combat a single drug crisis in history. But just as the SUPPORT Act was not the first Committee-led effort to combat the opioid crisis, it will not be our last.

Surrounding the recent one-year anniversary of this landmark legislation becoming law, Energy and Commerce Republicans are highlighting the progress made, and work ahead, to combat the opioid crisis as we move #ForwardWithSUPPORT.

In local op-eds submitted in their respective districts, Energy and Commerce Republicans Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), and Tim Walberg (R-MI) discuss how the SUPPORT Act is making a difference on the ground in their communities to stem the tide of addiction and save lives. The lawmakers also stress the need for the continued bipartisan, united front to end the opioid crisis once and for all.

Here’s what they are saying:

The Roanoke Times: Griffith: How to guide our approach to opioid crisis
By Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA)

Oct. 24 marks one year since the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act was signed into law.

The SUPPORT Act was a major step forward in the Federal Government’s response to the opioid crisis. It approached the issue through a fact-based, comprehensive, and compassionate approach.

As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care, I worked with my colleagues to advance this important legislation. Cooperation between Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate produced this landmark law to address the opioid crisis that has afflicted so many communities, both in Virginia and across the country.

Many of us have experienced the crisis at a personal level, with family members or friends who have battled addiction. But Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) data from 2006 to 2012, reported this summer by the Washington Post, provided shocking numbers underlining the severe impact on our Commonwealth.

Two jurisdictions I represent in the U.S. House of Representatives were among the highest recipients of prescription pain pills per person. Norton received 306 pills per person, and Martinsville received 242 pills per person.

Among the SUPPORT Act’s goals was to prevent such staggering quantities of opioids from flooding our cities and towns again.

Its provisions include language I introduced to improve state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs).

PDMPs are databases that monitor prescriptions. The information on prescribing behavior they provide can guide health policy decisions.

The SUPPORT Act aimed to enhance the value and effectiveness of PDMPs. It encouraged Medicaid providers to integrate the use of PDMPs into their health care services. Of particular relevance to our area, it incentivized the sharing of information between states. In a place like Southwest Virginia, which borders several states, data from across state lines can fill in the gaps about prescription histories.

The SUPPORT Act also included enforcement tools for the Federal Government to fight illegal fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that poses a significant danger today.

One way is to continue examining the roots of the crisis. Bipartisan investigations in the Energy and Commerce Committee uncovered the extent of pill dumping in small West Virginia towns, where drug distributors shipped enormous orders of pills and the DEA failed to act. We have also examined apparent misbehavior by the drug manufacturers.

The results of these investigations will guide our next steps. So will oversight of the implementation of the SUPPORT Act’s provisions.

Click here to read online.


Grand Lake News: One Year of Progress, But We Can’t Stop Now
By Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)

The opioid epidemic is personal to all of us. It is blind to party affiliation, socioeconomic status, geographic location, or age. We all know someone who has been affected by the opioid epidemic, whether it’s a friend, family member, or loved one.

Too many lives have been cut short by overdoses. In 2017, our country lost 70,237 people, including 775 Oklahomans, to drug overdoses. Since the start of the 21st century, we have lost nearly the same number of lives to the opioid crisis as we lost in World War II.

There is no silver bullet to remedy the opioid epidemic, but both sides worked together to turn the tide of the crisis by passing legislation that has had real impact on lives in our communities. One year ago, President Trump signed the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act into law. It is the single largest congressional effort to combat a drug crisis in history.

The SUPPORT Act advances treatment and recovery initiatives for patients across the country, helping them to get access to the treatment they need. Communities also now have resources that help them find grants and other funding opportunities to combat the epidemic. Additionally, the SUPPORT Act takes steps to protect our communities and bolster our efforts to fight deadly synthetic drugs, like fentanyl.

Two pieces of legislation that I sponsored were included in the SUPPORT Act: the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely (EPCS) Act and the Tribal Addiction and Recovery Act (TARA). With doctors writing 710 prescriptions for every 1,000 individuals insured in Oklahoma in 2017, it is clear we need to bring more accountability to opioid prescribing. The EPCS Act mandates e-prescriptions for all controlled substances under Medicare Part D so prescriptions can be tracked electronically across state lines.

Click here to read online.

Lansing State Journal: Walberg: Tackling the opioid crisis one year later, need a boost to community initiatives
By Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI)

One year ago, I had the privilege of being at the White House as President Donald Trump signed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act into law. It was a sweeping package of bipartisan bills, more than 70, that we passed in response to the opioid crisis – a nationwide epidemic that has taken the lives of too many of our friends and loved ones.

Within the SUPPORT Act are two bills I coauthored with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, one of which addresses proper disposal methods of painkillers following end of life care. The second one, Jessie’s Law, helps ensure that medical professionals have access to a consenting patient’s addiction history in order to make fully informed care and treatment decisions.

Following the one-year anniversary, it should be emphasized that this landmark law marked the continuation – not the conclusion – of a unified effort in Congress, in partnership and coordination with local communities, to battle the opioid crisis.

Every day, an estimated 130 people from all walks of life die from an opioid overdose. The heartbreaking reality of these statistics remains personal for me after a good friend from Michigan lost his battle with addiction late last year. This fight goes on and we must renew our work to identify more solutions to help those in or on the path to recovery

We have seen glimmers of hope thanks to the major bipartisan steps we have taken to combat the opioid crisis. For the first time in three decades, there has been a nationwide decline in overdose deaths. Yet as we mark the SUPPORT Act’s anniversary, and have reasons to be optimistic, we must also recognize that we are far from the conclusion of this battle.

Let’s continue working together – local, state, federal officials – to save lives and stop the opioid crisis in its tracks.

Click here to read online.


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