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Higgins, Reed, Tonko, Gibson, Collins, Slaughter, Hanna, Katko invite White House to host opioid-related community forum in upstate New York

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Mon, Feb 1st 2016 11:05 am

12 counties saw a 417% increase in overdoses between 2009-13

Eight upstate New York members of the House of Representatives are inviting the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to choose upstate New York as a location for an upcoming community forum to address the opioid epidemic.

In December, the White House announced National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli will host community forums across the nation. The first was held Dec. 16 in Oklahoma.

In their letter to Botticelli, Congress members Brian Higgins (NY-26), Tom Reed (NY-23), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Chris Gibson (NY-19), Chris Collins (NY-27), Louise Slaughter (NY- 25), Richard Hanna (NY-22) and John Katko (NY-24) wrote, "Between 2009 and 2013, 12 upstate New York counties saw the number of heroin overdoses jump by 417 percent and in 2014, New York State had 2,300 drug overdose deaths. These numbers are staggering and something must be done."

A bipartisan budget agreement approved by Congress in December includes a $100 million increase in funding dedicated to addressing the opioid epidemic, providing a total of $400 million toward programs that support community initiatives through an increase in community-oriented policing services (COPS) funding, state prevention programs and work to expand medication-assisted treatment.

Higgins, Tonko, Gibson, Hanna and Katko are also sponsors of the TREAT Act (HR 2536), which would enhance access to medication-assisted treatment by increasing the number of patients a buprenorphine prescriber can treat, and expanding the ability to prescribe buprenorphine to nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The bill is supported by a number of professional organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Society for Addiction Medicine, Trust for America's Health, American Associate of Nurse Practitioners and the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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