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: