Johnson, McKinley bills to fight opioids pass the House

STEUBENVILLE — Bills by two local representatives in Congress to combat the opioid epidemic have passed the House.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, said the T.E.A.C.H. Act, introduced by he and Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., passed.

U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling, said the P.O.W.E.R. Act, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Michael Doyle, D-Pa., and the ALTO Act, co-authored by U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., passed.

Johnson said the T.E.A.C.H. Act would create a competitive process to designate institutions that are leading the way in education of health care professionals on substance abuse disorder, treatment, prevention and recovery as “Centers of Excellence in Substance Use Disorder Education.”

The Training, Education and Community Help to Combat Addiction Act was one of three measures Johnson said he introduced in the Energy and Commerce Committee to deal with the opioid crisis. Johnson spoke about the T.E.A.C.H. Act during a stop in Steubenville Monday and said the committee had moved a total of 57 bills regarding opioids in recent weeks.

“The opioid crisis claims the lives of an average of 115 Americans every day. It is imperative that our health professional education system and community partners are fully prepared to prevent, treat and aid in recovery from substance abuse disorder,” Johnson said.

“The T.E.A.C.H. to Combat Addiction Act advances an all-hands-on-deck approach to the opioid crisis by leveraging the expertise of health care professional institutions with community partnerships to develop scalable models for integrating substance abuse disorder prevention, treatment and recovery more fully into professional education,” Johnson said. He noted bipartisan support and called on the Senate to act as soon as possible.

T.E.A.C.H. would provide incentives to schools that teach medical health professionals about the dangers of prescribing opioids and how to provide pain management without over-prescribing opioids, Johnson explained.

Johnson also introduced bills to promote telehealth counseling to allow addicted people to receive expert help from people from outside their area; and one to expand peer counseling.

McKinley said the bills were among 25 that passed the House Tuesday.

“During every meeting we hold in the district, the opioid crisis is the No. 1 concern. We brought our constituents’ feedback with us to Washington and introduced legislation to address these issues. Our bills will expand access to treatment for overdose survivors while in the emergency room and develop alternatives to opioids for pain management,” said McKinley.

McKinley said the Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms Act would provide resources for hospitals to develop protocols on discharging patients who came for opioid overdose treatment. These protocols would address the provision of naloxone upon discharge, connection with peer-support specialists and the referral to treatment and other services that best fit the patient’s needs.

The Alternatives to Opioids in the Emergency Department Act would establish a demonstration program to test alternative pain management protocols to limit to use of opioids in hospital emergency departments, and reduce the over-prescribing of opioids.