Representative Richard E. Neal Statement on the Opioid Epidemic Being Named a National Emergency

August 11, 2017
Press Release

SPRINGFIELD, MA – Representative Richard E. Neal released the following statement after President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. 

“I am pleased that President Trump recently declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, between 2006 and 2015, the number of individuals addicted to heroin nationwide jumped from 227,000 to 591,000 and prescription opioid addiction increased from 1.5 million to 2 million. In addition, opioid deaths nationwide have nearly tripled from 2002 to 2015. These numbers are staggering. Right here in Massachusetts, the opioid death rate is 17.0 per 100,000. Without action, these trends will continue their dangerous trajectory.

The Affordable Care Act includes at least $45 billion for opioid addiction treatment and that would be lost if the measure was repealed. In Massachusetts alone, it is projected to cost $123 million to provide comprehensive coverage for all people treated for opioid use disorders in Massachusetts in 2026. An estimated 2.8 million people with substance use disorders, including those with an opioid disorder, could lose some or all of their coverage if the ACA’s Medicaid expansion is phased out.

Over the past few years I have worked with my colleagues on important pieces of legislation such as the STOP Act and the Opioid Overdose Reduction Act to address the opioid addiction crisis. The STOP Act or the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act would enhance the U.S. Postal Service’s process of tracking shipments from foreign countries to detect synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and carfentanil. This would help curb these drugs from crossing our borders into the United States in the first place. The Opioid Overdose Reduction Act, a Good Samaritan-like bill, would exempt from civil liability individuals who provide or administer an opioid overdose drug under certain circumstances. 

In addition, I hosted President Obama's drug czar Michael Botticelli to brief the Massachusetts delegation about the crisis and how we could help. I also hosted the producer of the HBO Documentary ‘Heroin: Cape Cod, USA’ to multiple screenings across the First Congressional District and also to a screening and discussion with my Congressional colleagues in Washington. 

The time to take action against opioid abuse is now. I commend President Trump for taking this matter so seriously and look forward to working with him and my Congressional colleagues to address this critical public health and safety issue.”