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CRAMER: Health Bills Strengthen Response to Drug, Mental Health Issues

Sep 22, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer joined a bipartisan majority of his colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday in passing several bills that strengthen the medical community’s response to medical issues.

The bills now advance to the full House for consideration.  Cramer said three bills relating to patient access, mental health and substance abuse are especially significant to North Dakotans. They are:

H.R. 4365, Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications, co-sponsored by Cramer, this bill amends the Controlled Substances Act to enable paramedics and other emergency medical services (EMS) professionals to continue to administer controlled substances to patients pursuant to standing orders issued by their EMS agency’s medical director.

H.R. 1877, the Mental Health First Aid Act of 2015, co-sponsored by Cramer, requires the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to award grants to initiate and sustain mental health awareness training grants. The grants would be open to individuals throughout a community, including first responders, law enforcement, teachers, faith leaders, nurses, and other relevant personnel. The goal of these programs is to train individuals to de-escalate crisis situations, recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness, and encourage timely referral to mental health services.

H.R. 3537, Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2015, amends the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to modify the definition of "controlled substance analogue" to mean a substance that has a similar chemical structure and pharmacological effect to a schedule I controlled substance. The CSA's requirements, prohibitions, and restrictions with respect to Schedule I controlled substances apply to the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale, but not possession, of a controlled substance analogue.

“Along with the rest of the nation, North Dakota continues to grapple with the challenges of mental illness and drug abuse, especially the current opioid crisis,” Cramer said. “These bills, which I hope will quickly move through the House and on to the Senate, better equip medical providers in the state to deal with them.”