May 11, 2016

Lujan Bill Supporting Pregnant and Postpartum Women Suffering from Substance Abuse Passes House

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District spoke today on the House floor on legislation he introduced to support pregnant and postpartum women who are suffering from substance abuse.  His legislation passed with unanimous support.  Below is a transcript of his speech.

“Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by thanking the Chairman and Ranking Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Subcommittee on Health for their bipartisan efforts to address the nation’s drug crisis and for advancing my legislation, the Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act.

“Our nation continues to face a substance abuse crisis that is tearing apart communities and families. In New Mexico, we have seen a crisis that is multi-generational – with people growing up in communities where abuse is commonplace.

“The grant program for residential treatment that my bill enhances is an important part of our effort to break the cycle of drug abuse that grips our communities.  My bill also would increase funding for the Pregnant and Postpartum Women grant.  As originally written, my bill contained an authorization of $40 million, significantly above the current level to avoid any cuts to existing residential programs.  Through bipartisan cooperation we arrived at a small increase over the next five years.

“By focusing on women with young children and soon-to-be-mothers, we help ensure that these families get on the right path from the very beginning.  People want to be better.  But unfortunately, too often there are few resources and avenues for help.  Certainly this is true in New Mexico, which is among the states most impacted by the epidemic plaguing our country.  Too many people are suffering and too many people are being shutout from access to help.

“This bill helps address this by creating a demonstration project in the existing pregnant and postpartum grant program to allow grants to be used for non-residential care.  Residential programs are critically important where they are available.  In my home state of New Mexico, there are far too few residential programs to serve the needs of my constituents.

“In addition, many of the existing facilities have wait lists and with New Mexico’s vastness, residential facilities are out of reach for too many.  That’s why this demonstration project is critical.  It will allow us, while continuing to support residential treatment programs, to explore how to ensure the services and care we are providing work for those in need.

“And while I am pleased that we have been able to work together across the aisle in an effort to authorize increase funding and ensure the inclusion of the demonstration project, I think it is important to say: more must be done.  Supporting residential facilities and innovation to make treatment more available is essential, and both will require significant investments.

“Mr. Speaker, in 2014, 47,055 people died from drug overdoses.  That’s 129 people per day.  We must do more.  I hope that as we continue this conversation beyond today, we can all come to recognize the need for funding above and beyond what we are doing today.

“I respectfully ask for support for this this bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.”

#  #  #