Welch, House Task Force Unveil Agenda to Combat Opioid Epidemic
WASHINGTON—Today, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) and House colleagues on the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic unveiled their legislative agenda to battle the opioid epidemic ravaging communities in Vermont and across the country.
“Across Vermont, families and communities are struggling with the scourge of opioid addiction,” said Welch. “This Task Force has established a comprehensive agenda to support states, communities, providers, public safety agencies, and nonprofits who are on the front lines of this public health emergency. I am hopeful that the bipartisan composition of our Task Force will result in expedited action by House leaders on our agenda.”
The Task Force agenda includes the following bipartisan bills:
- H.R.1554: Jessie’s Law: Ensures doctors have access to a consenting patient's prior history of addiction in order to make fully informed care and treatment decisions.
- H.R. 664: Stem the Tide of Overdose Prevalence From Opiate Drugs (Stop Od) Act: Authorizes $75 million annually in grants for two years to expand educational efforts to prevent opiate abuse, promote treatment and recovery, and promote the understanding that addiction is a chronic disease. Also authorizes not more than $150 million annually in grants for two years to provide access to Naloxone, training in the administration of the drug, and testing for Fentanyl.
- H.R. 1575: Addiction Recovery Through Family Health Accounts Act: Allows family members to tap Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Spending Accounts, or similar accounts to pay for addiction treatment for any relative, even if they aren’t a dependent.
- H.R. 2938: Road to Recovery Act: Eliminates the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion for substance use disorder and help states expand access to inpatient treatment for Medicaid enrollees. The IMD exclusion is a long-standing policy that prohibits federal Medicaid matching funds to states for services rendered to Medicaid-eligible individuals who are patients for substance use disorders and mental health treatment.
- H.R. 2142: INTERDICT Act.: Authorizes $15 million for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to fund new screening devices, laboratory equipment, facilities, and personnel for the latest in chemical screening devices and scientific support to detect and intercept fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.
- H.R. 449: Synthetic Drug Awareness Act. Requires the Surgeon General to submit a report to Congress on the public health effects of the rise in synthetic drug use among young people aged 12 to 18.
- H.R. 2501: CRIB Act: Establishes residential pediatric care centers within Medicaid to treat babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) exposure to opioids during pregnancy.
The Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic is comprised of 88 Members of the House of Representatives, including Rep. Welch. The leaders of the Task Force are Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Donald Norcross (D-NJ).