RNs Commend House Hearing on the Urgent Need to Expand the Federal Approach to the Opioid Crisis
Nurses say hearing is an important step forward for the CARE Act
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform will hold a hearing Wednesday, June 19 on the current inadequate federal approach to opioid treatment and the need to expand care. National Nurses United President Jean Ross, RN, will testify before the committee and nurses say this hearing is a critically important step to advancing the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency Act (CARE) of 2019, which would provide state and local governments with $100 billion in federal funding over 10 years.
“The opioid crisis in the U.S. claims the lives of 130 people each day. That is five people dying each hour from this national health care crisis,” said Jean Ross, RN and president of National Nurses United. “Registered nurses see this crisis in our emergency rooms, in our hospitals, and we are the ones left to comfort the grieving families. It is scandalous that as a country we have failed to confront this deadly epidemic with an aggressive federal response. The CARE Act addresses this crisis by dramatically scaling up prevention, treatment, and recovery services in communities across the country.”
What: “Medical Experts: Inadequate Federal Approach to Opioid Treatment and the Need to Expand Care”
When: Wednesday, June 19, 2019 10 a.m.
Where: 2154 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515
The CARE Act of 2019 was introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings. It is modelled after the Ryan White Act, which has played a critical role in providing HIV care and treatment to low-income people.
Nurses note that while the opioid epidemic impacts every segment of the nation, the crisis has grown exponentially in the most vulnerable communities, exacerbating already existing health disparities.
“Registered nurses know that barriers to accessing much-needed treatment and prevention services for substance use disorders has caused and exacerbated the opioid epidemic,” said Ross. “We witness how poverty, income inequality, racism, and profiteering by the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries all contribute to the inequitable responses to our current crisis. We must do better to ensure that our most vulnerable communities have the resources they need for opioid use disorder treatment, prevention, and harm reduction."
The CARE Act provides additional funding to cities and counties that are hardest hit by the opioid crisis. It will provide funding for the full continuum of care, including prevention, mental health support services, harm reduction services, outpatient and residential treatment, and medical-assisted treatments such as Naloxone, and other opioid overdose antidotes. It also earmarks funds for public health surveillance, biomedical research, and improved training for health professionals to identify and treat patients with opioid abuse disorders. Importantly, the CARE Act ensures that people with substance use disorder, representatives from vulnerable and historically underserved communities, people who were formerly incarcerated, addiction and harm reduction organizations, nurses, doctors, recovery centers, and other providers are empowered to decide how funds are used in their communities.