Pelosi Remarks at Energy and Commerce, Health Subcommittee Hearing on Testimony and Proposals on the Opioid Crisis
Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee Hearing on Testimony and Proposals on the Opioid Crisis. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman [Michael Burgess]. Thank you, Representative [Markwayne] Mullin for your courtesy. I really came here to listen as well as to convey some thoughts.
This is only the second time I have testified as Leader or Speaker – in that capacity – because this issue rises to that level in terms of life or death. [I have] gratitude for you and the Ranking Member, Mr. [Gene] Green for bringing us together in a bipartisan way on this issue that is a matter of life and death. Thank you, Mr. Burgess.
The opioid addiction is taking a savage, daily toll on the American people – we know that, and regardless of whom they are or where they live, every district in the country – as we know.
This scourge is tearing families apart and having an impact on our children, hollowing out communities. It is claiming the lives of tens of thousands of Americans every year – on average, robbing 90 people of their lives each day.
Again just to testify to that, I know it’s a matter of your record here. Opioid addiction is a public health catastrophe. And it is growing more dire and deadly each day.
I believe that it is really important for us to respond to this national emergency with the seriousness and urgency it requires.
Fortunately we have [been] bipartisan in passing legislation the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act – we all came together, the bipartisan legislation that was passed, the 21st Century Cures Act, that people were so happy that addiction language was in there.
That day we heard the story of families, so effective, break your heart, families that lost a child a teenager or 21-year-old within a matter of days or weeks before that particular [bill] was signed by President Obama, but it has [the] language; it just doesn’t have the money to the adequate extent.
That, Mr. Chairman, is my appeal to you – for Democrats and Republicans to work together to have the funding to fund the key initiatives authorized in the bill.
I do want to make a pitch for Medicaid – the progress of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, which has provided a vital lifeline for tens of thousands of Americans struggling from opioid addiction.
As Governor of Ohio, our former colleague John Kasich noted, ‘Thank God we expanded Medicaid because that Medicaid money is helping to rehab people.’ Yet, 19 states still have not taken that step.
We stand ready, Mr. Chairman, to work together in good faith with Republicans to update and improve the ACA. But we will remain vigilant against any effort to gut Medicaid and create even more of a problem in terms of opioids, just to name one thing.
The opioid epidemic is a challenge to the conscience of the entire country.
We must act urgently and boldly to get America’s families the prevention, treatment and recovery resources they need.
We must, with providers and the pharmaceutical industry, push effective prevention measures so we reduce unnecessary prescriptions and stop this epidemic at the source.
Knowing you have a busy schedule, I will submit my entire statement for the record. Again, thank you for the courtesy of being able to testify before your committee.
Thank you all for your leadership on this important issue, and thank you Mr. [Gene] Green as well. Thank you.