WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Members of the House Oversight Committee want to know why so many people in need of opioid addiction treatment are unable to obtain it, and what more Congress and the Trump administration can do to help those patients and their families.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers and top medical experts warned that the nation’s opioid epidemic continues to worsen.
“In my neighborhood, I can see people at 3 o’clock at night chasing death – trying to get drugs,” Congressman Elijah Cummings said.
Cummings, D-Maryland, says Congress has failed to act with the urgency the crisis demands.
“We must do better than that,” he added. “Because these are people’s children, they’re mothers, they’re fathers.”
The American Medical Association (AMA) says nearly 20 million people in the United States suffer from drug addiction.
“More than 92 percent of these patients receive no treatment,” AMA President-elect Dr. Susan Bailey said.
Congressman Peter Welch, D-Vermont, also says Congress must do more.
“Fundamentally, the role the federal government should play is get money back to our communities where the treatment has to be delivered,” Welch said.
A bill sponsored by Cummings and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, would earmark $10 billion a year to “provide states and local communities with stable funding to build a robust treatment infrastructure,” according to Cummings.
Top medical officials support the bill but so far, no House Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors.
Congressman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, says Trump already has a plan “to reduce opioid demand, cut off the flow of illicit drugs, and save lives by increasing access to treatment.”
Despite the Trump administration’s work on this issue, Cummings says Congress must address the issue now before thousands of more people die.