Courtney Demands Action on the Opioid Epidemic Just As Speaker Ryan Announces the House Will Take Up Legislation in May
WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) delivered a floor speech highlighting devastating statistics from the CDC which show opioid and heroin related deaths have nearly quadrupled between 2004 and 2014, the last available year for which we have national data. Congressman Courtney is the lead sponsor of a House bill to provide $600 million in emergency funding to address the drug abuse epidemic which has 24 co-sponsors, and has been endorsed by 21 independent organizations.
“The chart next to me depicts graphically one of the most sickening trends in terms of an increasing cause of death in the United States, which is heroin and opioid overdoses. The map from 2004 shows data from the Centers for Disease Control when 7,500 Americans lost their lives to overdose deaths, in 2014 that number has grown to 27,000.
“This is a crisis which affects every part of our country, whether it’s rural, suburban or urban. It affects Republican districts, it affects Democratic districts. And it is time for our nation to recognize that this needs to be treated the same way we would any natural disaster, or public health emergency.
“In 2015, we know these numbers are in fact going to get worse. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in the State of Connecticut released their 2015 numbers a few weeks ago, and the number grew in the State of Connecticut by twenty percent to 723 deaths. Just this morning in the local press in southeastern Connecticut, a 25 year-old was found dead in a motor vehicle on Route 12 outside the Groton Navy base, and a young man in Norwich was found dead just a couple of days ago.
“It is time we listen to the folks on the frontlines – the police officers, the addiction counselors, the folks that are dealing with this problem, the people that bring people back to life with Narcan, and understand we need a new approach to solve this incredibly dangerous crisis for our nation.”
Courtney’s bill, the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (HR 4447), would authorize $600 million dollars in emergency funding for programs run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to fund initiatives aimed at treating the public health emergency brought on by addiction to opioids, as well as funding law enforcement efforts to end the illegal drug trade. The legislation makes grants available to states to assist in the coordination and improvement of already-existing substance abuse education, prevention and treatment programs. The bill currently has 24 cosponsors in the House and has been endorsed by 21 independent organizations.