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Another View, with Sens. Maggie Hassan, Shelley Moore Capito: A bipartisan step to combat the opioid crisis

By U.S. SENS. MAGGIE HASSAN
and SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO

April 07. 2018 10:35PM

Captain Tony Milan, EMS Battalion Commander for the City of Miami Fire Rescue, upper right, works on an overdose victim with his crew Nov. 17, 2017. (C.M. Guerrero/Miami Herald/TNS file photo)



Every day in New Hampshire and West Virginia, Americans are dying, losing loved ones, and reeling from the far-reaching impacts of the devastating opioid epidemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia had the highest drug overdose death rate in 2016, and New Hampshire had the third highest. This is the most pressing public health and safety challenge of our time, and it is not a partisan issue.

We need a comprehensive approach focused on treatment, prevention, recovery, and law enforcement to truly make a difference. But too often, we see a fragmented response that takes piecemeal steps without addressing the long-term underlying issues, coordinating efforts, or connecting patients to the services that meet their individual needs.

To truly combat this crisis, we cannot silo our response. Rather, we need to integrate and coordinate medical care, social services, and the justice system.

That's why we have joined together to introduce the bipartisan Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers (CORC) Act to provide a model of integrated settings of care that provide a comprehensive, coordinated approach to treatment and recovery and that provide a full continuum of treatment services.

Much like there is no single solution to combating this epidemic, there is no one-size fits all approach when it comes to the treatment and recovery process for those struggling with addiction, and patients need access to a full range of services.

We need treatment infrastructure in our country that meets the varying needs of Granite Staters and West Virginians living with substance use disorders so that they can get back on their feet and on the road to recovery.

There are already innovative and inspiring grass-roots efforts on the ground in both of our states, and our bipartisan CORC Act would create a pilot program allowing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to award grants to expand existing centers to serve as "Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers." States like New Hampshire and West Virginia with higher overdose death rates would be given priority for these grants.

These centers would provide a full range of treatment and recovery services to not only treat patients but also to provide them with the resources they need to lead successful and drug-free lives.

Services provided through these centers would include medication-assisted treatment, detoxification, recovery housing, job training and support reintegrating into the workforce, counseling, and community-based and peer recovery support services.

These centers would also serve as links to communities, providing outreach to professionals in health care, education, law, and other community partners to provide information about the services available to help ensure that those seeking treatment know what their options are.

In addition to this bipartisan bill that we introduced in the Senate, Congressman Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., and Congressman Gene Green, D-Texas, introduced similar bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives.

We strongly urge our colleagues to take up the bipartisan CORC Act as quickly as possible in order to save lives and help ensure that those in treatment have the wraparound support that is needed to get their lives back on track.

People are dying every single day from this epidemic, and we will keep working together to support those living with substance use disorder and those on the front lines of this crisis, because inaction is simply not an option.

Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., serve on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.


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