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Schumer Says Comprehensive Suite Of Opioid Bills Is Currently Working Its Way Through Congress; Opioid Legislative Package Addresses Full Spectrum Of Needs, Including Prevention, Law Enforcement, Response To Overdose, Fighting Addiction, And Recovery In All Ages And Population

With Capital Region First Responders Working Round The Clock To Treat And Prevent Opioid Overdoses, Schumer Announces Support For Upcoming Bipartisan Legislation That Will Aid First Responders By Authorizing Funding For Training, Protective Equipment, Life-Saving Medication And More

Schumer: Our First Responders Are On The Front Lines Fighting The Opioid Crisis, And Deserve Every Tool And Resource Possible

Standing at the Public Safety Building in Colonie, N.Y., U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer launched his push to pass the Opioid Crisis Response Act, which the Senate will be considering in the coming weeks. Schumer explained that the Opioid Crisis Response Act includes numerous provisions that address the full continuum of addiction prevention and treatment in all populations. While Schumer spoke of the importance of the full suite of policy changes in the bill, he highlighted the provisions that will help first responders. These include tools to treat patients who have overdosed on opioids in the Capital Region, and grants to protect first responders from incidental exposure to dangerous opioids like fentanyl, which can be deadly in even the smallest doses. Schumer praised first responders for their tireless work in the region, and said that they need to be provided with every tool possible to address this ongoing crisis. Schumer said that the opioid epidemic requires an all-hands-on-deck and an all-of-the-above approach, and called on his colleagues in the Senate to waste no time passing this critical package of bills.

“Our first responders here in the Capital Region are heroes, who work tirelessly to save lives by preventing and treating opioid overdoses. However, we still need to provide them with every single resource possible as the opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities across the region,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why today I’m launching my push to pass the Opioid Crisis Response Act, which the Senate will be considering in the coming weeks. This critical legislation includes policies that help first responders get protective equipment to keep them out of harm’s way in terms of exposure to dangerous drugs like fentanyl, educate more and new first responders on how to administer medication like Narcan and much more. I’m pushing hard to pass this crucial legislation through Congress as soon as possible, in order to give first responders the tools they need to keep combatting the opioid crisis. First responders – like the ones here today – are usually the first ones on the scene when a person overdoses, and their quick actions are often the difference between life and death. They need and deserve all the support Congress can give them so that they can effectively and safely do their jobs.”

Specifically, Schumer pointed to three provisions in the Opioid Crisis Response Act that would greatly benefit Albany County and the Capital Region’s first responders’ ability to treat opioid overdoses while ensuring their protection. The first provision expands a grant program that enables first responders to give Narcan and other opioid-overdose medication to people who have overdosed on opioids like heroin. Additionally, the grant program offers training to first responders on how to stay safe in the presence of fentanyl, and other opioids that can be deadly to touch. The second provision requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to release information, and authorizes a grant program, to educate officials on how to best administer treatment after an overdose, how to support and care for patients in their recovery from an opioid overdose, and how to administer Narcan and similar medication. The final provision authorizes additional funding for first responders to purchase equipment that can screen suspected illicit substances like fentanyl, and prevent exposure to them.

Schumer said that this package of policies will work in tandem with the major funding boost the Senate passed to address opioid addiction. The Senate-passed appropriations bills this year include a total increase of more than $3.5 billion to fight the opioids and mental health crises compared to FY17, including an increase of $2.9 billion in treatment, prevention and research for programs within the Department of Health and Human Services. This includes a $1.6 billion increase for SAMHSA and state grant funding, as well as major investments in addiction research, surveillance programs, improving rural workforce issues and addressing the needs of children who are affected by parental substance use

Researchers suggest the opioid epidemic has contributed to the United States’ drop in life expectancy. A separate report conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics titled, “Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States,” says that the rate of drug overdose deaths in 2016 was 21 percent higher than the rate in 2015. Specifically, in 2016 there were more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in the United States, and more than 42,200 of them were attributed to opioids; in 2015 more than 52,400 deaths were attributed to overdoses, and 33,000 of them involved opioids. The rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, doubled between 2015 to 2016, from 3.1 to 6.2 per 100,000. In the Capital Region, opioid-related deaths were up 5% in 2016, coming out to a total of 111.

Schumer was joined by Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, Colonie EMS Chief Peter Berry, Executive Director of New Choices Recovery Center in Schenectady County Stuart Rosenblatt, and Cortney Lovell, who inspires others through public speaking about her battle with addiction.