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Walberg, Dingell Introduce “Jessie’s Law” to Bolster Fight Against Opioid Epidemic and Assist Recovering Addicts

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Washington, March 15, 2017 | comments

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Tim Walberg (MI-07) and Debbie Dingell (MI-12) today reintroduced “Jessie’s Law,” a bipartisan bill named after Michigan resident Jessie Grubb who tragically died of an opioid overdose last year. Jessie’s Law would help ensure doctors have access to a consenting patient’s prior history of addiction in order to make fully informed care and treatment decisions. Providing this information would help prevent cases like Jessie’s, where a recovering addict in Ann Arbor was unknowingly prescribed and discharged with a powerful opioid that led to her death. Jessie’s Law was introduced last week in the U.S. Senate by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) with the help of Jessie’s parents from West Virginia, David and Kate Grubb.

“In communities across Michigan and the United States, too many of our friends, neighbors, and family members are struggling with drug addiction,” said Congressman Walberg. “Jessie’s story is a heartbreaking example of needlessly losing a loved one to this battle. It is vital for medical professionals to have access to the information that they need about their patient’s history so they can provide safe treatment and proper care. This bipartisan bill will make a real difference in fighting back against the deadly opioid epidemic and help save lives in our communities.”

“As one who has witnessed firsthand all spectrums of this issue, I believe this bill is one of the most important steps we can take in developing effective strategies to protect families and save lives,” said Congresswoman Dingell. “My father suffered from opioid addiction much of his life and we lost my sister to a drug overdose twelve years ago next week. I know the horrible pain of living with family members with addiction and the constant ache of losing someone you love. We have a responsibility to confront this epidemic for families like Jessie’s, and it is important that in our discussions to seek solutions, educate and prevent abuse that we ensure we do not stigmatize those with real and legitimate needs. I live with a man whose constant companion is debilitating pain and who at certain times can barely walk. This proposed bill does exactly that. Jessie’s Law provides information to medical professionals so they have an accurate picture of their patient’s history and can treat them safely and effectively.”

“After learning of Jessie’s passing, I promised her father that her death would not be in vain,” Senator Manchin said. “Now a year later after her death, I am re-introducing “Jessie’s Law” to make good on that promise and to do all that I can to prevent parents around our country from experiencing the grief that Jessie’s parents feel. It’s devastating knowing that her death was 100 percent preventable and she should still be with us today. We must ensure physicians and other medical professionals have full knowledge of a patient’s previous opioid addiction when determining appropriate medical care. We will not give up until Jessie’s Law is passed into law so her legacy stands long after us.”

Living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Jessie Grubb was in recovery and getting her life back on track after seven years of struggling with addiction. Due to a hip injury while training for a marathon, Jessie underwent surgery in February 2016. Jessie’s parents informed hospital personnel that she was a recovering addict, but that message never made it to the doctor who discharged her. Jessie left with a prescription for 50 oxycodone pills and fatally overdosed that same night.

A member of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, Congressman Walberg continues to collaborate with stakeholders at the local, state, and federal level to raise awareness and develop best practices to fight heroin and opioid addiction. For more information on Walberg’s work on this issue, visit walberg.house.gov/heroin.
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