Bacon Joins House Colleagues to Pass 35 Bipartisan Opioid Crisis-Related Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02) joined his colleagues to pass 35 bipartisan bills aimed at addressing the national opioid crisis and providing tools to assist states in stopping the damage to our communities.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there were more than 42,000 overdose deaths because of opioid abuse in 2016. In Nebraska, the number is much lower with 44 opioid related deaths in Nebraska in the same year.
“The nation as a whole is losing more people to opioids this year than we lost in the entire Vietnam War. While Nebraska’s numbers are very low compared to the rest of the country, every life lost carries great tragedy for families throughout the nation. These federal pieces of legislation are needed to help fight the opioid crisis on a national level,” said Rep. Bacon. “This is a bipartisan issue that affects every community and is a shared priority for the nation.”
These 35 bills address four areas: treatment and recovery, prevention, protecting communities, and fighting fentanyl. The legislation will improve and expand access to treatment and recovery services, encourage non-addictive opioid alternatives to treat pain, give law enforcement tools to get dangerous drugs out of our communities, and better tackle ever-changing synthetic drugs.
One of the bills, H.R. 5329 the Poison Center Network Enhancement Act of 2018, reauthorizes the toll-free number, national media campaign, and grant program under the Public Health Service Act. It provides funding to the Nebraska Regional Poison Center in Omaha and is cosponsored by Rep. Bacon.
“Not only does this center handle nearly 40,000 incoming calls per year, with 17,000 incoming calls from Nebraskans, it also provides real-time surveillance to identify emerging poisonings and monitor opioid and other trends in drug overdose,” said Rep. Bacon. “With Interstate 80 being a major trafficking route for these drugs, we are fortunate this center is located right in the state to provide immediate, patient-specific treatment recommendations to save lives.”
Stopping the importation of opioids is also critical in the fight against this crisis. H.R. 2851, Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act of 2017, provides a timely process to get these drugs out of the hands of criminals and provides law enforcement with the tools needed to keep these drugs off the streets.
“New, chemically-altered drugs are constantly being developed and the Attorney General needs the power to quickly classify new dangerous drug in a matter of months, when it is virtually identical to a drug is already approved for distribution,” added Rep. Bacon. “This will help keep these drugs away from traffickers, while allowing qualified researchers the ability to study addiction.”
Another way to stop the trafficking of opioids is to increase access to the treatment needed by those in rural areas who have no access to an in-person specialist. H.R. 5483- Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act of 2018, will insure important safeguards are in place to prevent misuse while taking advantage of telemedicine technology.
Trafficking is a major contributor to pushing drugs in our communities, but unused medications can also be spread out into the community and end up in the wrong hands. Especially unused opioids used to treat patients under in-home hospice care. Rep. Bacon cosponsored H.R. 5041 Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act, which will help make sure these medications are properly disposed.
“Patients receiving in-home hospice care need access to these painkillers, but hospice personnel are forbidden from disposing of the medication themselves unless state law allows it,” said Rep. Bacon. “This legislation allows them to properly dispose of these opioids so they do not end up in the wrong hands after the patient passes away.”
“The opioid crisis affects every community and we are committed to continue working together in a bipartisan basis to take major steps to address it,” added Rep. Bacon. “These bills are just the beginning and we will ultimately solve the opioid crisis in our country.”