July 06, 2016

Lujan Calls for More Resources to Address Opioid Crisis in Conference Committee

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District participated in today’s meeting of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act conference committee that is working on legislation addressing the opioid crisis that is hurting communities in New Mexico and across the country.  Luján delivered opening remarks, in which he stressed the importance of providing more resources and funding to combat the drug epidemic.

“In 2014, 47,055 people died from drug overdose.  Opioid overdose accounted for 28,000 deaths – an increase of 200 percent since 2000,” Luján said in his remarks.  “These are our friends, our loved ones, our neighbors.  But if we want to address this crisis in a meaningful way – in a way that will save lives – then we need to do more.  We need to make real investments and provide funding for this package.”

“Take legislation I introduced, the Improving Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act.  It passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and I am encouraged that its inclusion will help mothers get the care they need to put their families on the right path,” added Luján.  “But for this effort to make a difference, we must provide robust funding.  Continuing the status quo will not work.  If we are going to successfully combat this epidemic, save lives and help people, then we must provide more resources, more funding.”

In a letter to Republican conferees yesterday, Luján and House and Senate Democrats on the committee urged support for $920 million to respond to the nation’s opioid epidemic.  Luján also supported an amendment offered in committee that reflected legislation he introduced to provide robust funding for treatment and prevention.  The amendment was defeated with all Republicans on the committee voting against it.

“The drug crisis has spread and taken hold in communities throughout the country.  In my home state, generations of New Mexicans have been impacted, in part because of a failure to make the necessary investments,” said Luján about efforts to provide more funding.  “All the while, critical programs that help people overcome the influence of abuse have been underfunded.  No doubt the causes and reasons for the surge in overdose and dependency are many.  But ignoring the lack of resources available to our communities, advocacy groups, doctors, and our families and friends is simply unacceptable.  We should be working together to put the necessary resources behind these bills.”

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