Joyce Introduces Legislation to Combat Opioid Crisis

Mar 05, 2019

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) introduced the Comprehensive Opioid Program Extension (COPE) Act of 2019, which combats the opioid crisis by increasing the authorized resources available to the Department of Justice’s comprehensive opioid abuse reduction activities.

“With Ohio being one of the states hit the hardest by this epidemic, finding solutions to the opioid crisis has been one of my top priorities in Congress,” said Dave. “If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that battling this epidemic requires an all-of-the-above approach that includes not only prevention and education efforts, but also promotes treatment, cracks down on illegal distribution, and enhances resources for first responders and law enforcement. We need to make sure that federal funding effectively supports all of the life-saving work our local communities are carrying out on the front lines of this crisis, and the COPE Act does just that.”

“As the opioid crisis threatens public safety nationwide, state and local prosecutors continue to see a need for greater resources to combat the epidemic,” said Jonathan Blodgett, President of the National District Attorneys Association and elected District Attorney for Essex County, MA. “NDAA thanks Representative Dave Joyce for prioritizing the needs of our communities during this crisis. We are confident that the COPE Act will provide necessary funding to enhance collaboration between law enforcement and substance abuse agencies, while also providing improved training to ensure our nation’s law enforcement can effectively tackle the crisis.”

Specifically, the COPE Act would increase the authorization for the comprehensive opioid abuse grant program by $70 million per year from 2020 through 2024, bringing the total provided annually for these grants to $400,000,000. These grants help local communities battle the opioid epidemic by:

  • providing training and resources for first responders on opioid overdose reversal drugs and devices;
  • enhancing collaboration between state criminal justice agencies and substance abuse agencies;
  • enhancing law enforcement efforts to combat the illegal distribution of opioids;
  • and developing or expanding programs to prevent youth opioid abuse, drug take-back initiatives, or for treatment alternatives to incarceration.

“The Opioid Consortium applauds Congressman Joyce for taking a stand to address the opioid epidemic impacting our community,” stated Randy Jernejcic, MD, physician chair of the Northeast Ohio Hospital Opioid Consortium and Vice President of Clinical Integration at University Hospitals. “To solve this crisis we need a multi-faceted approach that tackles the problem from all angles, which means funding of programs that focus on prevention, treatment and harm reduction. As we have demonstrated with the Opioid Consortium, collaboration and the sharing of best practices has made us collectively stronger. I’m pleased to see this legislation also encourages a team approach.”

“At University Hospitals we have responded to the opioid epidemic by taking a holistic approach with our efforts,” explained Jeanne Lackamp, MD, Director, University Hospitals Pain Management Institute and Director, Psychiatry and Medicine, UH Cleveland Medical Center. “UH appreciates Congressman Joyce approaching the problem holistically through the COPE Act. Our philosophy is grounded in prevention through both education and the offering of alternative treatments for pain. However, many of our patients still struggle – whether physically, mentally or with addiction issues. We support legislation that increases funding for addiction treatment and comprehensive opioid response programs.”

“The opioid epidemic remains a significant problem for Northeast Ohio and the communities we serve,” said Brendan M. Patterson, MD chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Orthopaedic & Rheumatologic Institute. “Federal resources are an instrumental part of a comprehensive approach to the problem.”

In 2017, more than 70,200 Americans died of a drug overdose, including 5,111 Ohioans, of which more than 68 percent involved an opioid. Worse yet, from 2013 – 2017, nearly 1,000 babies in Ohio’s 14th Congressional District were born suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), a serious withdrawal syndrome that occurs in newborns exposed to opioids during pregnancy. Studies show that cases of NAS have tripled over the past decade, with the Ohio Department of Health reporting that treating newborns with NAS in 2015 alone was associated with more than $133 million in healthcare costs. According to a study conducted by Ohio State University, opioid addiction, abuse and overdose deaths costs Ohio anywhere from $6.6 billion to $8.8 billion, while the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse in the United States is estimated to be $78.5 billion per year.

“On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose,” said Dave. “The opioid epidemic has become the crisis in everyone’s backyard and I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure our communities have the resources and tools they need to fight it.”

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