With all the talk about Washington gridlock it’s nice when something good happens. It may not have been covered much by the national media, which seems to focus on the bad news, but a bipartisan bill to fight the opioid crisis was signed by President Trump on Oct. 24. The bill provides $6 billion in new funding “to end the scourge of drug addiction in America.”
“We are going to end it, or we are going to at least make an extremely big dent in this terrible, terrible problem,” Trump said in a signing ceremony attended by federal officials, members of Congress and law enforcement personnel in the White House East Wing.
The bill, titled SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, or SUPPORT Act, was introduced in the House on June 13 and received final congressional approval Oct. 3, having received votes of 396-14 in the House and 99-1 in the Senate.
Nearly 48,000 people died last year from overdoses involving opioids, according to WORLD Magazine, which noted that U.S. drug overdose deaths may be leveling off, although Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has said it’s too soon to declare victory.
WATCH A YEAR OF TREMENDOUS PROGRESS IN THE FIGHT
The SUPPORT Act covers not only opioids but also any kind of substance abuse, WORLD reported. It will add treatment options and involve the U.S. Postal Service in screening overseas packages for fentanyl, a synthetic form of opioids largely being shipped from China.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said he hopes the SUPPORT Act is “a first step in a committed national effort to combat the opioid addiction plague. Churches and families and communities all across the country are being torn apart by this crushing problem.
“Every elected official should be concentrating on ways to break the pattern of addiction and to help those who are in its grip,” Moore said.
The bill included several provisions advanced by West Virginia legislators, The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington reported.
• Jessie’s Law, a measure “to ensure doctors are provided with details of a patient’s previous substance abuse history if consent to share the information is provided by the patient,” as described in the HIPPA Journal, which focuses on “compliance with state and federal regulations governing the use, storage and disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII).”
• CRIB Act, which will help open more centers like Huntington’s Lily’s Place, which specializes in care for infants suffering from neonatal abuse syndrome.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who attended the White House signing, noted in an Oct. 24 statement, “For West Virginia, this law will more than double the state’s opioid funding because of a provision I secured to prioritize states like ours.”
Capito said the bill “also addresses more than just addiction; it also focuses on families, prevention, education and life after recovery. I’m so proud of the work that went into this bipartisan legislation, and I’m eager to see how it changes lives for the better.”
After its final passage in the Senate on Oct. 3, Capito had stated, “Our state understands far too well how this crisis is tearing apart families and communities, but our experience has also helped inform efforts to fight back. We have discovered what is working, what is not, and, perhaps most importantly, that the ripple effects go far beyond those struggling with addiction.”
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said in a release, the bill is “a shining example of what we can achieve when we work together in regular order, and I will continue to fight to ensure West Virginia is getting our fair share of funding to fight this epidemic.”
A survey released this summer shows progress in the fight against the ongoing opioid addiction crisis with fewer people in 2017 using heroin for the first time compared to the previous year. The number of new users of heroin decreased from 170,000 in 2016 to 81,000 in 2017. A decrease of 50 percent.
— by Art Toalston | BP