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BREAKING: Sen. Ossoff’s Bipartisan Bill to Combat Opioid Epidemic Passes House, Heads to President’s Desk

In 2020, drug overdose was the leading cause of premature death for Georgians

Sen. Ossoff’s bipartisan bill passed the Senate last December

Washington, D.C. –– U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s bipartisan bill to prevent and treat opioid addiction is on its way to becoming law.

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Sen. Ossoff’s bipartisan Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act to help rural communities experiencing a high level of opioid overdoses respond to the crisis.

Sens. Ossoff and Chuck Grassley (R-IA)’s bill passed the Senate last December.

The bipartisan bill will surge federal dollars to provide rural communities with the support they need to combat the epidemic and prevent addiction.

“Like so many Georgians, I’ve lost friends to the opioid epidemic. My bipartisan bill with Senator Grassley will fund efforts to prevent and treat addiction and save lives. I am bringing Republicans and Democrats together to address the opioid crisis,” Sen. Ossoff said.

“Today’s passage of the Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act is a critical step forward in our ongoing effort to curb the opioid crisis. Our bill will help communities in Iowa and across the country prevent and handle any surge in opioid overdoses. I urge President Biden to sign this bipartisan legislation into law quickly to help prevent cases of opioid overdose and addiction,”Senator Grassley said.

The bipartisan bill will identify current gaps in prevention, treatment, and recovery services for those who interact with the criminal justice system in rural areas and establish new efforts to address the opioid crisis in that community.

Congressman Conor Lamb (D-PA-17) and Congressman Randy Feenstra (R-IA-04) introduced companion bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives last year.

“The opioid epidemic has affected every community across the country, including western Pennsylvania,” said Congressman Lamb. “This crisis has been especially devastating in rural areas. This commonsense legislation will enable rural communities to implement evidence-based solutions and promising practices that utilize the unique assets of their communities to help combat this issue.”

“I am proud that the Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act – which I introduced with my colleague Conor Lamb – passed the House and will soon be signed into law. This important, bipartisan bill will help the most vulnerable in our rural communities recover from addiction and provide our first responders with the support they need to save lives,” said Congressman Feenstra. “In 2021 alone, nearly 100,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. That is unacceptable, and I’m encouraged that this legislation will help prevent opioid abuse and overdoses in rural America and nationwide.”

Leading national health and law enforcement agencies praised of Sens. Ossoff and Grassley’s bill:

“The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) is proud to support the Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act introduced by Senator Ossoff (D-GA) and Senator Grassley (R-IA). This legislation will help rural communities across the nation receive grant funding to reduce opioid deaths by formalizing the Department of Justice Rural Responses to the Opioid Epidemic Initiative. As the opioid epidemic continues to worsen, it is critical that the federal government continues to invest in successful programs that help save lives, particularly in rural areas,” said Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association.

“The opioid epidemic in rural America is unprecedented in our history. Many lives have been lost and families torn apart. Rural and tribal communities across our country continue to struggle with this epidemic and the COVID pandemic has made the drug overdose epidemic worse. Rural and tribal law enforcement are dealing with an increase in overdoses from illicit fentanyl, prescription opioids and heroin. Passing the Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act would provide resources to help rural communities combat opioid overdoses and provide alternatives to incarceration. This bill is in the best interest of small and rural enforcement agencies and we look forward to its passage,” the Small & Rural Law Enforcement Executives’ Association said.

“A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) fully supports the Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act. It is critical that we support rural communities in addressing opioid overdoses, especially during the pandemic. Too many people are at high risk of overdose, and there are concerning gaps in treatment and recovery services, especially for people with substance use disorders who become entangled in the criminal justice system,” A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) wrote.

“From housing to transportation and employment training, there is a significant gap in recovery support services in rural communities. Yet, there are also strong assets in rural America for local leaders to tap in building these supports. We urge Congress to enact the Rural Area Opioid Prevention Program Act to sustain the vital efforts to reduce overdose in high-risk rural areas and create opportunities for more individuals and families to achieve long-term recovery from addiction,” said Patty McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer, Faces & Voices of Recovery.

“We are happy to support the permanent creation of this program which provides rural communities with funding to adopt public health-based approaches to reduce overdoses,” the Partnership to End Addiction said. “Additional substance use and addiction resources are desperately needed in all communities but particularly in rural communities where services and resources are lacking. We hope this program will help to reduce the devastation of opioid overdoses on individuals and their families in rural communities.

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