CRAMER: On Opioids, One Death is Too Many
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Kevin Cramer attended an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing today with witnesses across several federal agencies to seek a status update on how the government is utilizing federal funding to combat the ongoing opioid crisis.
The Energy and Commerce Committee, of which Cramer has served as a member since 2015, has been the leading committee on combatting opioids since holding their first opioid hearing in 2012. Through their work, Congress has passed major opioid legislation including the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act, which provides $1 billion in funding to help states and territories combat opioid addition. The first round of funding was made available in April 2017 as part of the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grants. Through the program, North Dakota received $2 million this year and will receive $2 million more in 2018.
“Overdose deaths in North Dakota increased by 29% from 2016 to 2017 – that’s a serious problem we need to tackle head-on,” said Cramer. “While I’ve worked to ensure federal funding is available for North Dakotans, it’s not enough for money to be sitting in an account somewhere. It’s my job to also ensure the funding is being used effectively and in a way that saves the most lives possible. That’s why the committee I serve on held this hearing today; we’re holding everyone’s feet to the fire.”
The hearing provided a status update to Congressional Members as well as to review implementation of the provisions in CARA and the initiatives funded by the Opioid State Targeted Response (STR) grants, authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act. In addition, this hearing reviewed other federal efforts to address the opioid crisis including additional steps Congress can take to augment those efforts, and address new and emerging issues in the fight against opioid abuse. Members also asked questions related to the Committee’s ongoing investigations into allegations of pill dumping and patient brokering.
Fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent than morphine, was also discussed in the hearing. The Energy and Commerce Committee held oversight hearings on the ease of purchasing illicitly manufactured fentanyl. “With 61 North Dakota overdose deaths in 2015, we have seen the tragic consequences of these potent illicit drugs,” said Cramer. “No one should be able to Google ‘fentanyl’ and find places to purchase it within minutes, that needs to stop now to prevent further – one death is too many.”