Luján Legislation Supports Treatment For Pregnant And Postpartum Women Suffering From Substance Abuse

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján
WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District spoke Friday Oct. 9, at a Health Subcommittee hearing, “Examining Legislative Proposals to Combat our Nation’s Drug Abuse Crisis.”
Luján discussed legislation he introduced earlier this week to enhance treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum women who are suffering from substance use disorders. 
The Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act reauthorizes a residential treatment program that provides a wide range of services designed to help pregnant women and women with small children who struggle with addiction. 
Luján’s bill also creates a pilot program to allow states to fund innovative service models, providing greater flexibility to expand services, particularly in rural communities. 
In addition, the legislation increases funding for the current program and the new pilot program.
“This crisis touches everyone, from dense urban cities to rural states like New Mexico, where getting access to health services can often be a challenge,” Luján said in his opening remarks at the hearing. “The most recent data from New Mexico’s Health Department puts the accidental drug overdose rate at 24.3 per hundred-thousand. That is more than double the national average. In two counties in my district, the overdose rate is more than five times the national average. Too many people are being forgotten. Too many people are suffering. That is why I have introduced the Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act to strengthen efforts to ensure that some of our most vulnerable get the care they need.”
Last reauthorized through the Children’s Health Act of 2000, the grant program provides funding for residential treatment facilities to provide a range of care for pregnant and postpartum women, including pediatric health care, counseling and other mental health services, comprehensive social services, training in parenting, counseling on domestic violence and sexual abuse, and counseling on obtaining employment. 
The Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act reauthorizes the grant program and creates a pilot program to allow for up to 25 percent of the grants to go to innovative service models, including services in non-residential settings. 
With patients in rural communities often lacking access to residential facilities, providing flexibility will help expand much-needed services. 
The legislation provides an increase of more than $20 million over current levels, bringing funding to $40 million for these programs to ensure they are positioned to succeed.
“To combat the growing problem, we need to attack it on many fronts, including additional resources to provide help to those who need it, and through innovative new methods to deliver treatment,” Luján said. “By expanding services beyond residential treatment programs, this legislation provides greater flexibility and opportunities to increases services in rural America. Breaking the cycle of substance abuse is not easy, but by focusing on mothers and mothers to be, we can support these women while also helping their children start off on the right path.”
To watch more of Luján’s discussion and questions for hearing witnesses on the importance of addressing substance abuse and increasing services in rural communities, click here.
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