CHILLICOTHE, OH – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s office today participated in a roundtable discussion and listening session in Ross County on the addiction crisis in Ohio with local health experts and community stakeholders. Two members of Senator Brown’s staff met with representatives from the Heroin Partnership Project (HPP) and Paint Valley Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADAMH) Services Board. The groups discussed best practices for preventing and treating opioid and heroin addiction in Ohio, in addition to dealing with the rise of the use of methamphetamines in the area. Senator Brown has introduced and is currently working to pass several bills in Congress to help stem the addiction crisis in Ohio.
“Eleven Ohioans will die today of an opioid overdose, and Congress must be doing everything in our power to fight this epidemic on all fronts,” Brown said. “From making sure patients know about any drug company kickbacks going to their prescriber, to giving Ohio law enforcement officers the tools they need to detect dangerous drugs like fentanyl, there are many important bipartisan steps we can take right now. As these bills move through Congress, I will also keep fighting to get meaningful investments to Ohioans fighting the addiction epidemic on the front lines.”
“The Heroin Partnership Project is appreciative of Senator Brown and his staff taking the time to come to Ross County to discuss the unique challenges that rural counties like Ross County face battling opioid use disorder and substance use disorder within our community. We are also happy to have the opportunity to highlight some of the successes we've had, especially through our Post Overdose Response Team (PORT) and to emphasize the importance of the collaborative efforts of our local, state, and federal partners,” said Michelle McAllister, Coordinator, Heroin Partnership Project.
“I was delighted be a part of the conversation with U. S. Senator Brown’s office. It was very refreshing to feel like someone was listening to the challenges communities face while trying to address the impacts of substance use disorder. Being heard by individuals that really care about the issues and have the opportunity to break down some of the barriers was a wonderful opportunity. It was invigorating to us in attendance to share some of our successes and to realize that we are making a difference. While we have a long way to go in assisting individuals seeking recovery, we have make progress,” said Penny Dehner, Executive Director, Paint Valley ADAMH Board.
Brown continues to push his bipartisan legislation that would help state and local law enforcement obtain screening equipment to quickly detect dangerous drugs like the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl so that they can investigate appropriately. The Providing Officers with Electronic Resources (POWER) Act would establish a new grant program through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to help state and local law enforcement organizations secure these high-tech, portable screening devices. The POWER Act, gives law enforcement officers access to the same high-tech screening devices Brown helped secure for Customs and Border Protection agents in his INTERDICT Act. President Trump signed INTERDICT into law earlier this year.
Earlier this year, Brown and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) secured a provision in a bipartisan Senate package, the Opioid Crisis Response Act, to combine federal workforce and job training grants to address the workforce shortages caused by the addiction epidemic. This provision was based on their Collectively Achieving Recovery and Employment (CARE) Act, which would combine existing grant programs at the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a six-year pilot project to combine job training and addiction recovery services. The bipartisan package passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee in April. The bipartisan bill is a result of discussions with community leaders and mental health/addiction treatment professionals who say employers are having trouble finding workers who can pass drug tests, while Ohioans and West Virginians struggling with addiction can’t find a job to help them get back on their feet.
In June, Brown’s bipartisan bill to support grandparents now raising children in light of the opioid epidemic passed Congress and was sent to President Trump. The Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act – sponsored by U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) as well – would establish a Federal Task Force to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren to identify, coordinate and share information and resources to help grandparents and other relatives who are stepping up to raise children meet the needs of kids in their care while maintaining their own health and well-being.
Brown also recently secured provisions aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic in the legislative package that passed out of the Senate Finance Committee in June, called the Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018. Among the bills Brown got passed in the package were:
- The Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act: Brown introduced this bill with Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Dean Heller (D-NV), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The CRIB Act would allow Medicaid to cover health care services provided to infants in residential pediatric recovery facilities in addition to hospitals. Similar to the earlier version of this bill the Senators introduced at this time last year, the latest version of this legislation would clarify that babies receiving services in residential pediatric recovery centers can continue to receive services after one year of age, and provide for activities to encourage caregiver-infant bonding. Dayton, Ohio is home to Brigid’s Path, a residential treatment facility for babies with NAS.
- The Fighting the Opioid Epidemic with Sunshine Act: Brown introduced this bill with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). It would require drug companies and medical device makers to publicly disclose the payments that they make to nurse practitioners and physician assistants for promotional talks, consulting, and other interactions, just as they are required to for payments made to physicians and academic medical centers. This legislation will add additional transparency around prescribing practices and, by shining a light on the relationship between drug companies and prescriptions for opioids, help ensure greater accountability across all healthcare professionals who can prescribe controlled substances.
- The Comprehensive Screenings for Seniors Act: Brown worked with Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), John Thune (R-SD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to introduce bipartisan legislation that would ensure health care providers better engage with their Medicare patients about pain management and addiction risks. This legislation would ensure doctors, nurse practitioners and other healthcare providers discuss addiction risks with patients during annual wellness visits, the same way they would discuss diabetes and other health conditions.
- Brown was an original cosponsor of several other bills that passed out of committee, including The Help for Moms and Babies Act, which will help protect pregnant and postpartum women seeking treatment for a substance use disorder at an IMD facility, and the Informing Seniors about Opioids Act, which would update the “Medicare and You” handbook to include information relevant to patients about opioid use and pain management.