WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR DC BUREAU/WBTW) – Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. want to know why so many patients and families in need of opioid addiction treatment can’t get it.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers and top medical experts warned that the nation’s opioid epidemic continues to worsen.
Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said Congress has failed to act with the urgency the crisis demands.
“In my neighborhood, I can see people at 3 o’clock at night chasing death,” said Congressman Cummings. “We must do better than that. Because, these are people’s children, they’re mothers, they’re fathers.”
The American Medical Association said nearly 20 million people in the United States suffer from a drug addiction.
“More than 92 percent of these patients receive no treatment,” said Dr. Susan Bailey, President-elect, American Medical Association.
Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) said 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,” Congressman Welch said.
A bill sponsored by Congressman Cummings and Senator Elizabeth Warren would earmark $10 billion a year.
“To provide states and local communities with stable funding to build a robust treatment infrastructure,” Congressman Cummings said.
Top medical officials support the bill, but so far, no House Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.
Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) said the president already has a plan.
“To reduce opioid demand, cut off the flow of illicit drugs, and save lives by increasing access to treatment,” Congressman Jordan said.
Despite the Trump administration’s work on this issue, Congressman Cummings said Congress must address this issue now before thousands more people die.