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The opioid abuse crisis is the most serious drug epidemic America has ever faced. As overdose and drug related deaths skyrocket across the United States, it is the responsibility of Congress to work with federal, state, and local authorities to address this crisis. As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I’ve learned from both law enforcement and healthcare providers about the many reasons we face this epidemic. Every day, 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose. In 2016 alone, 2,411 Illinoisans died from opioid overdose. And this year, more than 2 million Americans will suffer from addiction to opioids. I am determined to work with my colleagues to develop legislation that raises awareness in the community, increases resources for law enforcement officers, and supports treatment and recovery efforts.

In fact, on March 22, 2018, I voted in favor of the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which provided $4 billion to address the crisis, the largest investment to date. More than $32 million was allocated directly to Illinois to support prevention, treatment, and recovery services across the state. Additionally, on June 22, 2018, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5590, the Opioid Addiction Action Plan Act, which is an important piece of legislation I introduced earlier this year. This legislation establishes a bipartisan and government-wide action plan by the beginning of 2019, which will identify ways to be more adaptable to innovative treatments, increase access to treatment, and improve provider and patient knowledge of their options. Patients deserve options and a system that is flexible, adaptable, and focused on preventing and treating addiction.

There is a long list of important pieces of legislation that I have supported to help communities face the challenges of combating the opioid epidemic. Below are just a few of the major pieces of legislation I have supported in Congress:

  • H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act – This bipartisan legislative package included over 50 important provisions that will bring our communities one step closer to stopping this epidemic and save lives. 
  • H.R. 4684, the Ensuring Access to Quality Sober Living Act – This legislation authorizes the development and dissemination of best practices for operating recovery housing that promotes a safe environment and sustained recovery.
  • H.R. 5002, the ACE Research Act – This legislation provides the National Institutes of Health (NIH) new authorities to conduct research on innovative non-addictive pain medications.
  • H.R. 5009, Jessie’s Law – This legislation helps ensure doctors have access to a consenting patient’s prior history of addiction in order to make fully informed decisions for care and treatment.
  • S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) – This landmark legislation increases access to addiction treatment programs, establishes educational resources, increases the availability of the life-saving overdose drug naloxone to law enforcement, and addresses the critical shortage of emergency trained personnel with inclusion of the Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act, a bill which I introduced in 2015.

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