September 18, 2018
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Doug Jones today applauded the passage of the Opioid Crisis Response Act (OCRA; H.R. 6), a comprehensive effort by Congress to respond to the nationwide opioid epidemic. This legislation combines three major bills that, together, aim to improve federal coordination of the opioid response, increase access to treatment, improve coordination of care, invest in non-opioid pain-killer research, and stop the flow of synthetic drugs into our country. It also reauthorizes funding and provides additional flexibility to states as they respond to the crisis.
“Alabama has the highest rate of opioid prescriptions per person in the country and that comes at a steep and sometimes devastating cost for our communities and families,” said Senator Jones, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “The opioid crisis has taken hold in every corner of our nation, and while we have seen some strides to turn that tide, we need to take an all-of-the-above approach to combatting this deadly epidemic. I was proud to support a comprehensive legislative effort through my work on the HELP Committee and I am glad to see several of the provisions I supported early on have been included in the final bill.”
Last month, Senator Jones hosted a roundtable discussion in Birmingham, Alabama with a diverse group of stakeholders to talk about the challenges first responders, medical professionals, nonprofits, and the judicial system are facing in Alabama related to the opioid crisis. They called for increased flexibility to coordinate their response, better data collection, and a stronger focus on an individual’s path out of addiction and into the workforce.
In April, Senator Jones cosponsored the bipartisan Senate version of OCRA, led by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, which passed the HELP Committee unanimously. He also cosponsored two provisions that were included in the legislation passed today. Those include the Jobs Plus Recovery Act, which establishes a pilot program to help recovering substance users access career training and services, and the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act, which mandates a report by the Surgeon General to study the effects of substances like synthetic drugs on young adults.