WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives has passed multiple bills this week relating to efforts addressing the opioid crisis, including a measure named after a late Charleston native.
Between Tuesday and Thursday, legislators passed 39 resolutions regarding opioid misuse and addiction treatment. This includes a bill allowing the sharing of practices in Appalachia for addressing drug abuse and legislation enforcing new requirements for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration related to informing pharmacists when they may refuse to fill a prescription of a controlled substance.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia has the highest death rate due to drug overdose in the United States with 52 deaths per 100,000 people.
“This is an epidemic, our most challenging public health and safety issue of our time,” U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., said. “We are hard at work in Washington to do what we can to tackle this most challenging issue. It is life and death, and we have all been impacted.”
The chamber passed House Resolution 5009 on Tuesday, which would require the Health and Human Services secretary to develop guidelines for health care providers regarding the sharing of a patient’s history of addiction.
The bill is titled “Jessie’s Law” and is named after Jessie Grubb. She was addicted to heroin for seven years before becoming sober and moving to Michigan. In late February 2016 — six months into sobriety — Grubb underwent surgery for a running-related injury. The discharging doctor did not know about Grubb’s history of addiction and prescribed her 50 oxycodone pills. Grubb died March 2, the day after she was discharged from the hospital. Authorities reported eight of the 50 pills as missing.
The Senate passed its version of “Jessie’s Law” in August 2017. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced the bill and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., signed on as a cosponsor.
In the omnibus spending bill passed in March, there was language encouraging the development of these standards, but not enforcing the creation.
“I’m hoping that we will have a bill on the president’s desk … that actually will ensure that medical professionals have access to patients’ medical information,” Jenkins said.
The chamber also passed House Resolutions 5176 and 5197 on Tuesday. H.R. 5176 would enforce the development of protocols for discharging patients who have overdosed, and H.R. 5197 would create and fund a three-year grant program to allow hospitals and emergency facilities to develop and study alternative pain management treatments.
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., introduced H.R. 5176. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J. introduced H.R. 5197, and Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.; Scott Tipton, R-Colo.; and McKinley originally cosponsored the bill.
“During every meeting we hold in the district, the opioid crisis is the number one concern,” McKinley said in a statement. “We brought our constituents’ feedback with us to Washington, and introduced legislation to address these issues.”