South Bend Tribune
In a display of bipartisanship that’s all too rare these days, Congress is beginning to address an opioid epidemic that is now a leading cause of death in this country.
Recently, the House passed several bills to combat the growing problems with abuse of painkillers and heroin use. The Senate approved a comprehensive bill in March.
The action is overdue: Opioids, which include such prescription painkillers as oxycodone, killed more than 28,000 people in 2014. And the rate of overdoses has tripled since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on these drugs in 2014.
You needn’t look far to find signs of the crisis close to home.
A conference committee will work to resolve differences between the House and Senate bills; the final agreement must be approved by both chambers before it reaches the president’s desk. Indiana Reps. Jackie Walorski, R-Jimtown, Larry Bucshon, R-Newburgh, and Susan W. Brooks, R-Carmel, will serve as members of the conference committee. The House legislative package included initiatives led by all three members.
In a statement, the representatives said they look forward to working to develop a “comprehensive, bipartisan solution.”
“It is truly going to take all of us to stem the tide of heroin and opioid abuse that is claiming so many lives in Indiana, and around the country.”
That solution won’t come easy — or cheap. The expansion of treatment programs is critical, given that programs are filled to capacity and turning away patients. Now that Congress has stepped up, it must follow through with a committed and vigorous response to this public health crisis.