Monroe News: Opioid bill with Walberg and Dingell provisions has been signed
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pledged on Wednesday to put an “extremely big dent” in the scourge of drug addiction in America as he signed legislation intended to help tackle the opioid crisis, the deadliest epidemic of overdoses in the country’s history.
Nearly 48,000 people died last year from overdoses involving opioids. Overall, U. S. drug overdose deaths have started to level off, but Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says it’s too soon to declare victory.
U. S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, was at the White House on Wednesday to attend President Trump’s signing ceremony for H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.
The landmark law combats the opioid crisis and includes two bipartisan provisions authored by Reps. Walberg and Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, Jessie’s Law and the Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act. In addition to these provisions, H. R. 6 includes a series of legislative solutions to enhance treatment and recovery programs, increase prevention efforts, direct more resources to communities, and fight the synthetic drug fentanyl.
“After months and months of collaboration, our bipartisan legislation to tackle the opioid crisis is now law of the land,” said Walberg. “The opioid crisis continues to claim lives and devastate dreams, and families in Michigan know this pain all too well. This landmark law will make a tangible difference by equipping our communities with additional tools to address addiction and preventing illicit drugs from coming into our country. I’m grateful to work with Rep. Dingell in this effort, and I remain committed to helping save lives and stopping the opioid epidemic in its tracks.”
Jessie’s Law is named after Michigan resident Jessie Grubb who died of an opioid overdose in 2016. Jessie’s Law will help ensure doctors have access to a consenting patient’s prior history of addiction in order to make fully- informed care and treatment decisions.
The Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act will help prevent the misuse or diversion of unused medications by equipping hospice professionals with the legal authority to safely dispose of unused drugs.
The newly signed legislation will add treatment options and get the U. S. Postal Service to screen overseas packages for a synthetic form of opioids called fentanyl that are being shipped largely from China.
The measure mandates advance electronic data on all international packages, including those delivered by the Postal Service, and set deadlines for the screening to be put into place by the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and the Postal Service.
The Obama administration secured a commitment to expand treatment and Congress provided $1 billion in grants to states. Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency and two major funding bills have passed under his watch.
“My administration has also launched an unprecedented effort to target drug dealers, traffickers and smuggler,” Trump said. “We are shutting down online networks, cracking down on international shipments and going after foreign traffickers like never before.”
The White House says the Justice Department has shuttered a large “Darknet” distributor of drugs, and in August indicted two Chinese nationals accused of manufacturing and shipping fentanyl and 250 other drugs to at least 25 countries and 37 states.
This article originally appeared in the October 25 edition of the Monroe News.