WASHINGTON, DC – Two pieces of legislation led by Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03) that would help in the fight against opioid addiction and deaths were reviewed at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.
“I’ve heard from so many families across New Jersey who have seen opioid addiction hit their families hard. They’re stories I carry with me every day and ones that have driven me to lead on these two important pieces of legislation,” said Congressman Kim. “These bills represent a path forward to helping those on the frontlines better fight this battle and those suffering with opioid addiction get help. I’m proud to see the progress and will keep fighting until these are passed into law.”
The first bill, the Synthetic Opioid Danger Awareness Act, would direct the Centers for Disease Control to conduct a public education campaign that raises public awareness of the dangers of synthetic opioids and explains the services available with respect to opioid treatment. The bill would also require the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to make materials for first responders, and other highly exposed workers, on synthetic opioid exposure prevention measures publicly accessible on their website.
The legislation is endorsed by organizations on the front lines of the fight against synthetic opioids including the National Council for Behavioral Health, Shatterproof, U.S. First Responders Association, National Association of State EMS Officials and International Association of Firefighters.
“The abundance of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids on American streets remains a serious threat to firefighters and emergency medical responders,” said Edward A. Kelly, General President of the International Association of Firefighters. “From my many years as a Boston firefighter, I know just how easy it is for firefighters to inadvertently come into contact with these deadly substances on the job. Continuing education on fentanyl and synthetic opioids is essential for the safety of firefighters and paramedics. The IAFF supports Representative Kim’s Synthetic Opioid Danger Awareness Act, and we thank him for his leadership on this critical issue.”
The second bill, co-sponsored by Congressman Kim, is the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which would expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) by eliminating a duplicative bureaucratic hurdle—known as the “x-waiver”—currently blocking millions of highly trained health professionals from prescribing buprenorphine to their patients.
"Congressman Andy Kim is a strong and committed leader for people and families struggling with substance use disorder," said Erin Schanning, the President of End SUD, who also lost her younger brother to an overdose. "We applaud Congressman Kim for co-sponsoring the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act. This common-sense, bipartisan solution will prevent overdoses, increase participation in treatment, and reduce stigma. Our loved ones with substance use disorder can get better. The Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act will help ensure that all Americans with opioid use disorder can access the affordable, high-quality treatment they need to heal."