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Higgins part of bipartisan task force outlining agenda to address opioid epidemic

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Fri, Apr 22nd 2016 09:50 am

Higgins' TREAT Act among featured legislation

On Thursday, the congressional bipartisan task force to combat the heroin epidemic, of which Congressman Brian Higgins is a member, released a legislative agenda aimed at addressing the opioid crisis.

The agenda covers various challenges related to opioid abuse, including enforcement, treatment, prevention and recovery. Members of the task force are advocating that the legislation included in the agenda be prioritized for consideration on the House floor.

The agenda includes The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment, or TREAT Act (HR 2536), introduced by Higgins, which would enhance access to medication-assisted treatment. Prescribers of buprenorphine are currently limited to treating 30 patients in the first year, and up to 100 in year two and beyond.

Higgins recently spoke on the House floor urging approval of the bill:

"Mr. speaker:

In 2014, 28,000 Americans died from an overdose of opioid drugs, an annual total that has quadrupled since 1999. In Erie County, 11 people die per week from suspected opiate overdoses.

"Yet only one in nine Americans with substance abuse problems are currently receiving treatment for this disorder. One cause is a cap that limits the number of patients a doctor can treat with opioid-treatment medications such as suboxone.

"I have introduced legislation to raise these caps and expand prescribing authority to physicians assistants and nurse practitioners, which is especially important in medically underserved communities.

"When treatment was approved for use in France without patient caps, the opioid overdose death rate declined by 80 percent in five years.

"I urge my colleagues to support the TREAT Act, to give professionals the tools they need to treat addiction and our families new hope for recovery."

The TREAT Act is supported by the American Medical Association, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, National Association of County and City Health Officials, Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, American Society of Addiction Medicine, Trust for America's Health, National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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