U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján
WASHINGTON, D.C. ― Three bills authored by U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) aimed at curbing the ongoing opioid crisis have passed the House of Representatives. All three bills were passed unanimously earlier this year by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Luján’s first bipartisan bill directs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide labeling guidance for non-addictive pain medication. The labeling guidance provided by the Better Pain Management Through Better Data Act of 2018 (H.R. 5473) will allow prescribers to better understand how to use non-opioid pain medications to treat patients.
“This bill is an important step in making sure that everyone has more options to treat pain. If we’re going to really stop this epidemic, we have to make sure that everyone has access to pain medication that is not addictive.” Luján said.
Introduced earlier this year, Luján’s bipartisan Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act of 2018 (H.R. 5327), which is sponsored by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-OH), Gene Green (D-TX), and Larry Buschon (R-IN), establishes a grant program to fund at least 10 comprehensive opioid centers across the country. These recovery centers will focus on community engagement, prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
“The treatment centers created by this legislation will be located in areas hit hardest by this epidemic and they will serve those who need help the most,” Luján said. “These comprehensive centers will give families hope, researchers data, and communities across this country the resources that they so desperately need.”
Luján’s third bipartisan bill passed Tuesday, the Peer Support Specialist Recovery Act (H.R. 5587), will provide $75 million for peer support technical assistance centers. This funding will allow greater access to peer support programs for those seeking treatment for substance use disorders. Peer Support Recovery Specialists are individuals who are in recovery from substance use disorders and have received training to provide recovery support for others in treatment.
As part of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s legislative hearings earlier this year year, Carlene Deal-Smith, a Peer Support Recovery Specialist at Totah Behavioral Health Authority, in Farmington, New Mexico testified, in support of this legislation.
“In order to address this nation’s opioid epidemic, we must address our workforce challenges. We have incredible health care providers in New Mexico, but we don’t have enough of them. Peer Support Recovery Specialists provide much needed services to their communities, but Peer Support Programs also provide jobs for individuals who may not otherwise find jobs,” Luján said. “I’m grateful that the House has acknowledged the importance of these programs and I am hopeful that the Senate will do the same very soon.”
Luján’s bills were passed today as part of a broader package of legislation considered by the House to combat the opioid crisis. This package now heads to the Senate for consideration.