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Alexander: Senate Takes Important Step to Address Epidemic Claiming More Than 1,000 Tennesseans’ Lives Each Year

Says the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act will help states and local communities tackle the complex problem of opioid abuse

WASHINGTON, March 10 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today the Senate’s passage of legislation to address heroin and prescription drug abuse is “an important step in addressing this fast-growing epidemic that is claiming the lives of more than 1,000 Tennesseans each year.” The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 94-1.

Alexander, the chairman of the Senate health committee, said: “It’s important to remember that behind these numbers there are very real human beings whose lives are cut short due to this growing epidemic. Today’s vote is an important first step towards helping states and local communities address this complex problem.”

On March 7, the Senate health committee introduced a staff discussion draft of the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 to help ensure Americans suffering from mental illness and substance abuse disorders receive the care they need.

At the Senate health committee’s December hearing – Opioid Abuse in America: Facing the Epidemic and Examining Solutions – Alexander said, “The human costs of this epidemic are too high, and I hear about the challenges of dealing with this epidemic at home in Tennessee, particularly in East Tennessee where I am from. ...[b]ut, the truth is, this problem affects all states and is frontline issue for communities all over.”

On October 22, 2015, the Senate passed the Protecting Our Infants Act, legislation that passed the Senate health committee on September 30, 2015, and will help improve the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorders among pregnant women and care for newborns exposed during pregnancy. Alexander said, “This bill will help ensure that federal programs are more effective in preventing and treating opioid use disorders among pregnant women to increase their chances of having healthy children.”

At a Knoxville roundtable event on September 4, 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden announced that Tennessee would receive a $3.4 million grant to help the state monitor for prescription painkiller abuse and fight prescription drug abuse in high-risk communities. At that event, Alexander said, “This $3.4 million grant will allow the state to improve its programs to monitor prescription painkiller use, fight prescription drug abuse in the hardest-hit communities, and spread information to doctors who are prescribing these drugs.”


For access to this release and Chairman Alexander’s other statements, click here.