November 30, 2017

Senator Hassan Underscores Urgent Need for Increased Federal Funding to Address Opioid Epidemic During Hearing on the Crisis

All Witnesses Agree with Senator Hassan on Need for More Federal Funding for Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Providers

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For footage of the hearing click here.

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan participated today in a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing with substance misuse experts, medical professionals, and public safety officials where she underscored the urgent need for increased federal funding to address the fentanyl, heroin, and opioid epidemic. Senator Hassan also highlighted the critical role that prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) and New Hampshire’s Safe Stations play in combatting substance misuse.

Senator Hassan started by pointing out that “if this were any other kind of public health crisis that were taking 100 lives a day, which is about what the opioid overdose death rate is right now, if this many people were dying in a defective plane every day in the United States of America, we would be devoting considerably more resources to it. And part of the reason we haven’t is because of the stigma that has traditionally come with addiction.”

The Senator also highlighted the fact that the Trump Administration has so far refused to request additional funding to fight this crisis, and asked each witness if they agree that the Administration needs to request – and the Congress needs to appropriate - additional supplemental funds to combat this crisis. All four witness agreed that more funding is needed to support those on the front lines.

Senator Hassan asked Andrea Magermans, Managing Director of the Wisconsin Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, if integrating PDMPs into Electronic Health Records will promote better workflow for providers and increase the likelihood they will use PDMPs, and also asked if substance use counselors and mental health providers, who often work with patients experiencing substance misuse disorders on a longer term basis, should have access to PDMP data as well. Director Magermans agreed that both changes to the way PDMPs are accessed would be valuable for substance misuse treatment providers.

Touting the success of the Safe Station initiative in New Hampshire, which allows fire fighters at participating stations to help connect individuals in need with treatment and recovery services, the Senator asked Kentucky’s Secretary of Justice and Public Safety John Tilley if he agreed that programs like Safe Stations are an important component of efforts to combat this crisis. Tilley said, “absolutely, first responders are critical in this cause they’re the boots on the ground, first to respond.” He added, “our Governor, having a connection to New Hampshire, we know about Safe Stations and that is a great program, we need to do more of that.”

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