03.08.18

Senator Murray Emphasizes Need for Federal Government to Support State Innovation to Address Opioid Crisis

In sixth HELP Committee hearing on opioid crisis, Senator Murray emphasizes the need for federal support of state innovation

 

Senator Murray: “… while this a national problem, empowering local officials with the tools they need is one of the most important solutions.”

 

Senator Murray highlighted innovative LEAD program in Washington State

 

Hearing featured Governors Kate Brown (D-OR) and Larry Hogan (R-MD) who spoke about their states’ efforts to respond to the opioid epidemic

 

***WATCH SEN. MURRAY’S OPENING REMARKS HERE***

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered opening remarks at a Committee hearing on state efforts to address the opioid crisis. In her remarks, Senator Murray highlighted the important role states play in supporting innovative local programs, and highlighted one such program in Washington state that is empowering law enforcement to better help families struggling with opioid addiction.  

 

The hearing, featuring Governor Kate Brown (D-OR) and Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD), was the latest in a series of Committee hearings on how the opioid epidemic impacts families and how to support communities’ efforts.

 

Key excerpts of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“We have seen that while this a national problem, empowering local officials with the tools they need is one of the most important solutions. We have seen—after far too long—that we cannot simply treat this as a law enforcement issue. To fully address the crisis we must also treat it as a health care issue, a child welfare issue, and a drain on local economies.”

 

“We heard in our last hearing about how beneficial it can be when our states’ prescription drug monitoring systems can talk to each other, and work together. We discussed how, by making technology like those drug monitoring systems more interoperable, we could collaborate more effectively on the challenges we face. This is a lesson that also goes beyond data. It’s not enough that we have technology in one state that is able to talk to technology in another state. We need to make sure this is happening on a human level too. We need to make sure that not only good data, but good ideas, are being shared.”

 

 “A good example of the potential of shared ideas comes from my home state. Back in Washington, King County has been running a diversion program for a couple years now that gives law enforcement a new resource in the fight against addiction. It lets them put struggling patients on the road to recovery, instead of in prison. The approach doesn’t only help people themselves recover, but as one patient put it a few years ago, it ‘[makes] us feel human.’ After seeing that program succeed and learning more about it, Snohomish County recently opened a similar rehabilitation program. And these programs are a model for the similar grants authorized through the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act that was passed last Congress. This is just one example of how Congress can take what is happening in the states and use it to benefit more people across the country.”

 

Video of Sen. Murray’s remarks available HERE.

  

Full text below of Sen. Murray’s remarks:

 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman, And thank you to both of our witnesses for making the trip out here to join us today. Particularly Governor Brown. I recognize your trip was a bit longer than Governor Hogan’s.”

 

“I’m glad we are able to bring together two leaders facing this issue who come not only from opposite sides of the aisle, but even from opposite sides of the country. I look forward to hearing from each of you on how you are working in your state to address the opioid crisis.

 

“Throughout our series of hearings on the crisis so far, we have heard from a wide range of voices with different and important perspectives on the epidemic. And whether we have been speaking with government officials or families, medical professionals or data experts, journalists or academics, individuals who have personally lost someone to opioid addiction, or people who have personally overcome it, we have seen that this crisis impacts everyone. The 115 people who die each day from an opioid overdose are young and old, from all backgrounds, and from all over the country.

 

“We have seen that while this a national problem, empowering local officials with the tools they need is one of the most important solutions. We have seen—after far too long—that we cannot simply treat this as a law enforcement issue. To fully address the crisis we must also treat it as a health care issue, a child welfare issue, and a drain on local economies.

 

“It is clear this disease isn’t only hard on the patients facing it. It impacts entire families and entire communities, including; parents, like Becky Savage, the mother we listened to in a recent committee hearing, who tragically lost two sons to opioid overdose; kids whose lives are thrown into uncertainty when a parent is battling addiction, and the grandparents and relatives who step up to raise them amid that hardship; educators, like the principal I recently spoke with in Everett, Washington, who had seen firsthand the strain this crisis put on the students at his school.

 

“We have heard time and time again how heartbreaking, and how far-reaching, this crisis has become. And it is clear that in order to find the solutions we are going to have to reach just as far.

 

“We heard in our last hearing about how beneficial it can be when our states’ prescription drug monitoring systems can talk to each other, and work together. We discussed how, by making technology like those drug monitoring systems more interoperable, we could collaborate more effectively on the challenges we face. This is a lesson that also goes beyond data.

 

“It’s not enough that we have technology in one state that is able to talk to technology in another state. We need to make sure this is happening on a human level too. We need to make sure that not only good data, but good ideas, are being shared.

 

“And that’s what today’s hearing is all about.

 

“A good example of the potential of shared ideas comes from my home state.

 

“Back in Washington, King County has been running a diversion program for a couple years now that gives law enforcement a new resource in the fight against addiction. It lets them put struggling patients on the road to recovery, instead of in prison. The approach doesn’t only help people themselves recover, but as one patient put it a few years ago, it ‘[makes] us feel human.’

 

“After seeing that program succeed and learning more about it, Snohomish County recently opened a similar rehabilitation program. And these programs are a model for the similar grants authorized through the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act that was passed last Congress. This is just one example of how Congress can take what is happening in the states and use it to benefit more people across the country.

 

“As this Committee undertakes another legislative effort around opioids, I believe we can once again find room for similar progress between states here in Washington D.C. As more states learn what is working for their communities, I believe conversations like this can help make sure good ideas are being put to good use for families everywhere.

 

“Which is why I am so eager to hear from both of our witnesses, and so grateful they could join us to discuss the efforts they have underway to address the opioid crisis, and what lessons they have for other communities, states, and those of us working on this nationally.

 

“I believe today’s discussion will offer some interesting insights as we continue to look for common ground and common sense solutions to help those struggling with the menace of opioid addiction.

 

“And before we begin, I also want to submit for the record, testimony from the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. They have been doing important work to address the opioid crisis and call attention to the challenges that Tribes face in responding to this epidemic. I’m very grateful for their thoughtful testimony and continued efforts.

 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.”

 

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