Each acknowledging how the opioid epidemic has impacted the communities they represent, U.S. Reps. David Trone of Maryland and Lori Trahan of Massachusetts stressed to Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit attendees that they have maintained their focus on addressing substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overdose deaths are up in every county within Trone’s district, including one in which the number of overdose deaths has increased by 111%, he told attendees. He acknowledged that individuals with mental health and substance use disorders are particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. The passage of the CARES Act provided $425 million to SAMHSA, including $250 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, and the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act allotted another $4 billion to SAMHSA and the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to treatment.
Trone said he is now turning his attention to legislation that helps families of individuals with SUD, as well as the creation of a grant programs to incentivize states to require prescribers to discuss addictive qualities of opioids with patients. Trone also discussed the merger of two Congressional groups—the Freshmen Working Group on Addiction that he launched and the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force—which, together, will have “more voices, more bills and more power as we work to support those with substance use disorders,” he said.
Trahan, meanwhile, said addressing the opioid crisis has been among her top priorities in office, and as such, she is reintroducing the Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act, which would standardize substance use disorder training to ensure all prescribers of controlled medications possess a baseline knowledge in evidence-based prevention and treatment. Trahan, along with a bipartisan group of representatives—Jack Bergman (Michigan), Buddy Carter (Georgia), Trone, Hal Rogers (Kentucky) and Annie Kuster (New Hampshire)—first introduced the bill in November 2019.
“What becomes clearer each time we learn of a tragic overdose is that no individual or family is immune to the despair of substance use disorder,” Trahan said.