U.S. House Task Force Introduces Bills to Fight Opioid Addiction

A bipartisan group of members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday presented 15 bills aimed at fighting opioid addiction, according to The Hill.

The legislation introduced by the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic includes $85 million in local grants, as well as $10 million for prescription drug monitoring programs. It also includes legislation that would reform opioid prescription practices, increase access to the opioid overdose medication naloxone, and update Veterans Administration pain treatment procedures.

In March, the U.S. Senate voted 94-1 to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). The measure authorizes funds for various drug treatment and prevention programs for a wide range of people, including those in jail.

CARA expands prescription drug take-back programs and establishes monitoring to prevent over-prescribing of opioid painkillers. It expands the availability of medication-assisted treatment, including in criminal justice settings, and supports treatment as an alternative to incarceration. The measure also calls for training and equipping first responders on the use of naloxone.

The House legislation is co-sponsored by two representatives from New Hampshire, Frank Guinta, a Republican, and Annie Kuster, a Democrat. Guinta hopes the House bill will go even further than the Senate measure. “When leadership looked at this, they said, we have an opportunity to not just pass [the Senate version], but strengthen it,” Guinta said. He told The Hill, “I spend more time on this issue than any other issue.” He added it is the number-one issue in New Hampshire.

Republican leaders in the House say they are planning for a vote on the opioid legislation the first week in May.

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