First Lady Melania Trump kickstarted National Recovery Month with a roundtable at the White House “…to highlight two important things in recovery: the power of recovery tools and resources in the workplace, and the role personal connection to others plays in achieving sobriety.” During National Recovery Month, we celebrate recovery stories across the country. It’s important to raise awareness that mental health and substance use disorder treatment resources are available for recovery, which is why the Energy and Commerce Committee is continuing to advance legislation to help those suffering during this difficult time.
The First Lady said, “I have learned that addiction and drug abuse are universal issues that do not discriminate based on income, age, race, or wherever you live.” We know this to be true and, sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be exacerbating the opioid crisis. E&C committee leaders on both sides of the aisle are concerned about the pandemic’s impact on the overdose and substance use disorder (SUD) crisis and recently sent a letter sharing those concerns with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar.
Thankfully we already have resources in place to help Americans seek recovery – from measures such as the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act and the 21st Century Cures Act. There’s no doubt that more needs to be done on this front, and this week the committee advanced legislation to build on efforts to help support Americans in recovery. At this week’s markup, the committee passed three additional bipartisan bills to combat the opioid crisis by stopping suspicious opioid orders and strengthening Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration regulations. During a markup in July, the committee reported another mental health bill, the Strengthening Behavioral Health Parity Act, to the full House. This bipartisan bill ensures that physical and mental health care are treated equally. The bill’s leaders, Energy Subcommittee Republican Leader Fred Upton (R-MI), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), and Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) underscored the need for this important legislation at the time saying, “Congress must act urgently as COVID-19 exposes the inaccessibility of behavioral health treatment for millions of Americans.”
In addition to advancing bipartisan solutions, earlier this year the Health Subcommittee held a hearing on mental health during the public health emergency at the urging of Health Subcommittee Republican Leader Dr. Michael Burgess (R-TX). Mental health and recovery continue to be a bipartisan priority for all members of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought more than a virus into our communities. The human, emotional, and financial loss – in addition to the overall uncertainty resulting from the pandemic – are some of the factors taking a toll on mental health. As the committee continues to conduct important oversight to monitor ongoing response efforts and ensure only a safe and effective vaccine is approved, the committee is also simultaneously working to advance legislation so that we can celebrate more recovery stories.
If you or someone you know need treatment, a treatment locator tool and information on the suicide prevention hotline can be found HERE.