We are pleased to hear of the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Opioid Crisis Response Act by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 98-1. This followed an earlier House vote of 393-8. The bill now goes to President Trump, who last year declared the opioid crisis to be a national emergency, for his signature.
The opioid epidemic in this country is destroying lives and families. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 63,600 people died in 2016 from an overdose in the United States, of which 42,249 involved an opioid. And the numbers have been on the increase over the last several years.
Babies are also victims of addiction. Prescription painkillers taken by pregnant mothers can cause birth defects, miscarriage, preterm labor, low birth weight and other debilitating symptoms.
Children abandoned through their parents’ death or addiction are swelling the foster care rolls in multiple states, which are putting out emergency calls for new foster parents. But demand far exceeds supply. My heart breaks for the children who suffer the devastating consequences of their parents’ addiction to opioids.
That’s why we support the recent actions of Congress, and the efforts of President Trump to see this epidemic curtailed, and we hail the passage of this bill as a much-needed first step. It allocates billions of dollars for the research and treatment of this addiction; removes unnecessary impediments to treatment contained in some of our nation’s laws; and beefs up enforcement against the illegal importation of fentanyl, among other things.
We’re also encouraged to see that, when the country is faced with a national crisis such as this, our elected representatives can work together to accomplish great things. That is no small feat in these divisive times.
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