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Pascrell Statement On Subcommittee
Passage of Alternatives to
Opioids Bill

WASHINGTON, DC (April 26, 2018) – U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) issued the following statement after the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health approved the Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) in the Emergency Department Act and advanced the bill to the full committee.

 “St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey has enjoyed tremendous success in lowering opioid dependence. Instead of being steered towards writing a script for an opioid, patients entering St. Joe’s emergency department with a migraine, lower back pain, or other common painful maladies are more likely to receive targeted non-opioid therapies. This legislation moves us one step closer to taking St. Joe’s innovative approach to hospitals nationwide,” said Rep. Pascrell. “Approval of this bill by the panel signals the wide bipartisan support our legislation enjoys. With my colleagues, I am committed to getting a final bill onto the President’s desk this year. As the opioid crisis continues to ravage our cities and towns, we cannot wait a single minute to pursue courses that can alleviate this epidemic.”

After years of ravaging communities across America, the opioid epidemic is showing no signs of abating. More than 100 people die each day from opioid overdose, with forty percent of those deaths involving a prescription opioid. Over 200 million opioid prescriptions are written in the United States each year. As a first line of defense against the opioid epidemic, emergency rooms are well positioned to be laboratories of new innovations to combat the crisis. At the same time, because of the short-term nature of care they provide, emergency rooms are often highly susceptible to doctor-shopping.

recent report issued the Centers for Disease Control found that emergency room visits stemming from opioid overdoses rose approximately 30 percent between July 2016 and September 2017. The report noted that abuse is affecting all age groups and in all geographic regions in the nation, with the acting head of the CDC saying the epidemic is getting ‘worse.’

Eager to try fresh approaches to address the epidemic, St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson created the Alternatives to Opiates (ALTO) program, which decreased emergency department opioid prescriptions by more than 80 percent in two years.

The Alternatives to Opioids in the Emergency Department Act would establish a demonstration program to test alternative pain management protocols to limit the use of opioids in emergency departments. The legislation would provide grant funding to build these programs. Following the completion of the three-year demonstration, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will submit a report to Congress on the results of the program and issue recommendations for broader implementation.

The legislation, H.R. 5197, is sponsored by Reps. Pascrell, David McKinley (R-WV), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Scott R. Tipton (R-CO), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Andy Barr (R-KY), and Ron Kind (D-WI). Following its approval in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, it will now go to the floor of the House of Representatives for consideration by the full chamber.

Companion legislation in the Senate, S. 2516, is sponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), and Cory Gardner (R-CO). Part of this legislation was itself passed out of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions this week and awaits action on the Senate floor.

U.S. Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. press release