Boozman, Heitkamp Join Center Forward to Discuss Opioid Epidemic as House Passes Bipartisan Legislation

September 29, 2018 by TWN Staff
Senator Boozman and Heitkamp participating in a discussion with Center Forward on the opioid epidemic.

As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities across the United States, Congress – in a rare occurrence of bipartisan cooperation – reached a deal this week on legislation addressing the crisis. The House of Representatives on Friday voted 393-8 to pass the compromise bill, which was the result of months of hearings and deliberation in both chambers. The Senate is also expected to approve the bill in the coming weeks before sending it to President Trump’s desk.

As H.R. 6, the “Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act,” made its way to the House floor, two senators who have spent years working on legislation – on the state and federal level – to combat the opioid epidemic sat down to discuss the crisis and what Congress is doing to fight back. Moderated by Los Angeles Times congressional reporter Jennifer Haberkorn and hosted by Center Forward, a centrist Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering bipartisan conversation, Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) offered insight into the compromise legislation and what more Congress should be doing.

“Trying to control the supply is the only way we are going to control the problem,” said Heitkamp in discussing the root of the epidemic. But the North Dakota senator also argued for a holistic, community-based approach that provides support for the children affected, not just those who are addicted. “We have record numbers of children going into foster care as a result of the addiction crisis,” she said. “I think it’s not enough just to think about the addicts and rates of overdoses. I think we’ve got to think about the whole continuum.”

The compromise legislation provides grants to state Medicaid programs to help increase the number of substance use disorder providers and services. It also increases access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment for children and pregnant women covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and ensures former foster youth are able to keep their Medicaid coverage across state lines up to age 26.

Boozman has said of the bill, “The comprehensive response to this crisis shows how committed we are as a nation to combatting opioid addiction. Boozman specifically praised the bill’s expansion of a grant program to train first responders administering naloxone—the drug that can be used to block the effects of opioids and prevent deaths from an overdose — by highlighting the lives it has saved in Arkansas.

For Heitkamp, this has been a decades-long battle. Since fighting North Dakota’s methamphetamine crisis as the state’s attorney general in the 1990s, she has introduced and passed multiple pieces of legislation to provide additional federal resources to combat opioid abuse, including a bill to expand a federal grant program to provide $12 billion over five years for local organizations to treat drug abuse and addiction while preventing further overdoses.

Boozman has focused his work on providing assistance to veterans struggling with substance abuse. The Arkansas Republican pushed for a policy that requires VA practitioners to check the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) database when prescribing medication in order to more closely monitor a veteran’s prescription history and pressed for grant funding to Veterans Treatment Courts that was incorporated in the Comprehensive Addiction to Recover Act (CARA).

The full panel discussion can be watched HERE.

Health

Signs of an ‘October Vaccine Surprise’ Alarm Career Scientists
2020 Elections
Signs of an ‘October Vaccine Surprise’ Alarm Career Scientists

President Donald Trump, who seems intent on announcing a COVID-19 vaccine before Election Day, could legally authorize a vaccine over the objections of experts, officials at the Food and Drug Administration and even vaccine manufacturers, who have pledged not to release any vaccine unless it’s proved... Read More

Americans Losing Trust in CDC, Public-Health Experts Warn
Health
Americans Losing Trust in CDC, Public-Health Experts Warn

People who are exposed to a COVID-19 patient but feel fine don’t necessarily need to get tested, the nation’s top public health agency declared in August — only to drop that advice last Friday. The same day, it declared that the coronavirus could spread beyond the... Read More

CDC Says New Guidance on Risk of Coronavirus Aerosols was Posted by Mistake
Health
CDC Says New Guidance on Risk of Coronavirus Aerosols was Posted by Mistake

New federal guidelines that acknowledged the role of aerosols in the spread of COVID-19 were removed Monday from the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said they had been posted by mistake. The updated information about coronavirus-laden aerosols, which came to the... Read More

Substitute Teachers Are in High Demand for School Districts Trying to Fill Vacancies in a Pandemic
Education
Substitute Teachers Are in High Demand for School Districts Trying to Fill Vacancies in a Pandemic

PHILADELPHIA — Dawn Pittman retired from teaching in 2013 after more than three decades. But Pittman has no plans to give up her passion — even in a pandemic. When Camden resumes in-person learning, possibly in January, she hopes to answer the call as a substitute.... Read More

Biden Warns Obamacare Could Be Repealed if Trump’s Supreme Court Pick is Confirmed
Political News
Biden Warns Obamacare Could Be Repealed if Trump’s Supreme Court Pick is Confirmed

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Sunday portrayed President Trump’s determination to lock in conservative control of the Supreme Court in the final weeks of the presidential campaign as a potent threat not only to Americans’ health care, but also to the nation’s democratic... Read More

Trump Rebukes CDC Chief for His Cautions on a Coronavirus Vaccine and Masks
Health
Trump Rebukes CDC Chief for His Cautions on a Coronavirus Vaccine and Masks

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump contradicted one of his administration’s top scientists and announced Wednesday that widespread distribution of a coronavirus vaccine would begin as early as next month, further rattling the scientific and public health communities and stoking rival Joe Biden’s claim that Trump can’t... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top