There are steps we can take today to help families impacted by drug abuse — and keep more families from ever going through it to begin with. That’s why I’m proud to join my colleague, the Senior Senator from Iowa, in introducing the Protecting Families Affected by Substance Abuse Act, which would reauthorize grants to help children in foster care, or at risk of being placed there, because of their parent’s drug habits…there are a number of other important pieces of related legislation here in the Senate.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the efforts in the Senate to address the nation’s opioid epidemic and its impact on Kentucky:
“By now, many know the numbers. Overdose deaths in Kentucky were responsible for more than 1,000 deaths in 2014 alone. This is a devastatingly high number, among the highest rates in the nation. But it’s even more heartbreaking when you consider the real-world toll substance abuse can take on friends and family members — and their children.
“The trickle-down effects of opioid and heroin abuse are palpable and widespread, lasting and cyclical.
“But there are steps we can take today to help families impacted by drug abuse — and keep more families from ever going through it to begin with. That’s why I’m proud to join my colleague, the Senior Senator from Iowa, in introducing the Protecting Families Affected by Substance Abuse Act, which would reauthorize grants to help children in foster care, or at risk of being placed there, because of their parent’s drug habits.
“Here’s what one Kentucky group said about their experience with these grants:
The Regional Partnership Grants have been integral to the implementation of Kentucky-START, which has helped more than 800 Kentucky families and more than 1,600 Kentucky children. It’s programs like these, which focus on better outcomes for children and safely reuniting families, that are helping combat the negative effects of the opioid, heroin, and other drug epidemics facing the Commonwealth.
“I’m also proud of the work that’s being done in the Commonwealth to address the opioid crisis, particularly in rural communities.
“For instance, the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program (HIDTA) was recently recognized by Director Botticelli and the Office of National Drug Control Policy as the top program of its type for 2015. I’d like to recognize all they’ve done in the fight against drug trafficking and illegal drug use. I have no doubt that without their efforts, and those of other leaders in the Commonwealth, the toll of the epidemic would be much greater than it already is.
“So whether it’s by supporting the efforts of local HIDTAs or working with the Senior Senator from Iowa and me to pass our legislation to reauthorize grants for local communities, there are many opportunities for Senators to help ensure we respond to the drug epidemic wreaking havoc on our communities at home.
“For example, there are a number of other important pieces of related legislation here in the Senate.
“This week, Senators discussed one of those bills in the Finance Committee. It would allow Medicare Advantage and Part D plans to implement a prescription drug abuse prevention tool similar to what is already available and used in Kentucky in the Medicaid program and private plans. I was proud to join the Junior Senator from Pennsylvania as a cosponsor of that bill as well.
“And of course, there is the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). The Junior Senators from Ohio and New Hampshire have been leading the charge on that effort, and I’d like to thank the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Chairman of the HELP Committee for working together to have this bill reported out of Judiciary by voice vote.
“In the coming days, we will be working to move that important bipartisan bill forward. It has garnered a great deal of support from both sides because of its provisions to expand prevention and educational efforts, strengthen prescription-drug monitoring programs, improve treatment programs, and give law enforcement more of the tools it needs to address the epidemic.
“With bipartisan support we can pass legislation like CARA and the others I’ve discussed today, in order to promote healthier families and a healthier country.
“In the meantime, we took a step forward yesterday by confirming the new FDA Commissioner, Dr. Robert Califf.
“In a recent meeting with Dr. Califf, I expressed my concerns regarding the epidemic at hand and the need for more action by the FDA. I was encouraged by Dr. Califf’s recognition that the opioid epidemic is a serious problem and the FDA must do a better job of addressing it.
“Dr. Califf received broad bipartisan support yesterday in this Chamber, and we look forward to working with him. I will continue to hold him accountable to lead the FDA in a new direction to help prevent dependence and abuse of prescription opioids.”