Lance Opioid Bill Passes House
WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) today secured passage of his legislation, the Eliminating Opioid-Related Infectious Diseases Act, through the U.S. House. The legislation was a byproduct of a bipartisan collaboration between Lance and Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-04). The duo decided to team up and offered legislation to combat the spread of infectious diseases related to the opioid crisis. The measure passed as part a 26-bill package to address the many parts of the national crisis including new tools for law enforcement and combatting over prescription.
“New Jersey communities are not immune from the opioid crisis – too many of our neighborhoods have known heartache from the scourge of drug addiction. But Congress has taken action. Public entities across the country and in New Jersey are seeing new and effective resources to fight against drug abuse on many fronts. Twenty-six new pieces of legislation have now passed the U.S. House including my bipartisan bill with Congressman Kennedy. The spread of infectious diseases is unfortunately a challenging aspect of this crisis. Families and children of those addicted are being exposed to terrible infections at an alarming rate. We have to stop the spread of these diseases before an already bad situation reaches a viral threat,” said Lance.
Congressman Joe Kennedy was the lead Democrat on Lance’s bill. He added, “Infectious diseases compound and complicate the lifelong path towards recovery from a substance use disorder that millions in our country are navigating today. In our efforts to confront an opioid epidemic that has touched every American community, we must invest in proven strategies that prevent cases of HIV, hepatitis C and similar infections. With Congressman Lance and the bipartisan support of our colleagues, we are one step closer to treating this epidemic as the public health crisis that it is and ensuring the CDC has the resources to respond.”
The Eliminating Opioid-Related Infectious Diseases Act will confront the rising cases of HIV, hepatitis C and other infections that stem from drug-use. The Lance-Kennedy bill will authorize the CDC to undertake an injection drug use-associated infection elimination initiative and work with states to improve education, surveillance and treatment of infections associated with injection drug-use. Injection drug use is a well-known route for the transmission of blood-borne infections, particularly human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis. According to the CDC, in the United States, approximately seven percent of new HIV cases, 50 percent of new hepatitis C virus (HCV) cases, and two percent of hepatitis A cases are associated with illicit injection of drugs. Additionally, over half of Americans infected with viral hepatitis are unaware of their infection status and nearly half of new hepatitis C infections were among young persons aged 30 or younger. Testing and education is the first step of mounting an effective response. The White House Council of Economic Advisers recently estimated the economic burden of the opioid crisis, inclusive of the value of lives lost, to be over $500 billion.
The legislation was endorsed by the AIDS Institute. In a letter to Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi, the Institute hailed Lance-Kennedy. “The AIDS Institute strongly supports the Eliminating Opioid Related Infectious Diseases Act of 2018, and urges you and the entire Congress to vote YES. The bipartisan bill to provide much needed resources to state and local governments and others to help improve the nation's response to the growing number of new cases of infectious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis, due to injection drug use associated with the opioid crisis. It would provide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with $40 million annually to carry out these activities.”
Lance has prioritized combatting the opioid crisis – advancing 26 bills through the House today, securing $13 million in Opioid State Targeted Response Grants for New Jersey and serving on the Combat Heroin Taskforce. Lance’s Energy and Commerce Committee passed the 26 bills in a marathon session dedicated to the opioid crisis. It’s not the first time the Lance and his Committee took charge against this national crisis. Lance served as a member of the conference committee that produced the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2016.