Bucshon, Brooks, Walorski Tapped to Negotiate Final Opioid Legislation
(WASHINGTON, DC) – On Tuesday, three members of Indiana’s Congressional delegation were appointed to a special conference committee comprised of members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate that will negotiate the final details of comprehensive legislation to curb opioid and heroin abuse.
Reps. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08), Susan W. Brooks (IN-05), and Jackie Walorski (IN-02) will serve as members of the conference committee. The committee will work toward an agreement resolving legislative differences between the House and Senate packages to address heroin and opioid abuse. The final agreement must be approved by both the chambers before it reaches the President’s desk.
“Drug overdoses in Indiana have increased five-fold in the past decade, and Hoosier law enforcement officers, medical providers, veterans, emergency responders, and families need our help to address the increasingly alarming rates of heroin and opioid abuse in our communities,” said the members. “We look forward to working with our Senate counterparts to develop a comprehensive, bipartisan solution that will support the work our state and local partners are doing each day to combat this crisis. It is truly going to take all of us to stem the tide of heroin and opioid abuse that is claiming so many lives in Indiana, and around the country.”
The House members of the committee were appointed by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan who called the contribution of Bucshon, Brooks, and Walorski invaluable.
“Right now, more Americans die every year from drug overdoses than they do in car accidents,” said Speaker Ryan. “Last week, the House passed a comprehensive legislative package to address the heroin and opioid crisis that is sweeping across this country. As we take all of these ideas to a conference committee with the Senate, Reps. Brooks, Bucshon, and Walorski will be invaluable to our efforts to get a final bill to the president’s desk that ensures Americans have the resources they need to win their fight against addiction.”
The legislative package passed by the House included initiatives led by all three members.
Bucshon introduced H.R. 4981, the Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Expansion and Modernization Act, alongside Paul Tonko (D-NY), which amends the Controlled Substances Act to expand access to medication-assisted opioid addiction treatment, ensures patients have access to a wider range of comprehensive, evidence-based treatment options, and minimizes the potential for drug diversion. The legislation is the product of months of stakeholder engagement, expert input and bipartisan negotiation. It passed the Energy and Commerce Committee and House floor unanimously.
Brooks introduced H.R. 4641 with Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA). This legislation establishes a task force comprised of people with chronic pain, people in recovery, medical providers, hospitals, state medical boards, pain advocacy groups and federal agencies involved in oversight of pain management and the prescribing of pain medication. The task force will be responsible for reviewing, modifying and updating best practices, released earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for prescribers of pain medication. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced companion legislation that was passed earlier this year as a part of the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. Brooks’ bill passed 412-4 in the House of Representatives.
Walorski, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, authored two provisions that were included in the comprehensive opioids bill. One provision would require all Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities to participate in their respective state’s prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). The other would expand the VA’s use of FDA-approved medical devices and other therapies as alternatives to opioids for treating chronic pain. Both provisions were approved unanimously by the committee as amendments to H.R 4063, the Jason Simcakoski Promoting Responsible Opioid Management and Incorporating Scientific Expertise (PROMISE) Act, which passed the House unanimously and was included in the amended version of S. 524.
Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D. is a physician and Republican member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee serving his third term representing Indiana's 8th Congressional district. The 8th District of Indiana includes all or parts of Clay, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Greene, Knox, Martin, Owen, Parke, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Sullivan, Vanderburgh, Vermillion, Vigo, and Warrick counties.
Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks is a second term Republican who represents eight urban, suburban and rural counties in Central Indiana, including the north side of Indianapolis. She uses her background as a Deputy Mayor of Indianapolis, a U.S. Attorney and a community college administrator to improve education, jobs, health and homeland security. Through her membership on the Energy and Commerce Committee, she is working on mental health, substance abuse, biodefense and Medicaid reform. As a member of the Ethics Committee, she works with her colleagues to restore confidence in Congress.
Congresswoman Jackie Walorski is a lifelong Hoosier, born and raised in South Bend, who has dedicated her career to helping Hoosier families. She represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, House Armed Services Committee and House Committee on Agriculture.