McConnell Unveils Bipartisan Bill to Combat Maternal Addiction and Infant Opioid Withdrawal
‘Nationwide, we’ve seen a staggering 300-percent increase in the number of infants diagnosed with newborn withdrawal since 2000. But in Kentucky, we saw similar numbers grow by an almost unbelievable 3,000 percent.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the Protecting Our Infants Act:
“Next month, I look forward to hosting our nation’s newest Drug Czar at a forum in Covington, Kentucky. It’s a forum that will allow Director Botticelli to hear firsthand accounts of the devastating impact of one of America’s most significant public health challenges, one that continues to hit my state particularly hard: The growing epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse.
“It’s hard to overstate the challenge.
“Drug overdoses, largely driven by painkillers, now claim more Kentucky lives than car accidents.
“And rising heroin overdose rates now account for nearly a third of all drug overdose deaths in Kentucky.
“While statistics like these are devastating enough, they hardly paint the full picture either.
“Because they don’t account for the thousands of innocent children born dependent on opioids.
“The numbers are hard to hear.
“Nationwide, we’ve seen a staggering 300-percent increase in the number of infants diagnosed with newborn withdrawal since 2000. But in Kentucky, we saw similar numbers grow by an almost unbelievable 3,000 percent.
“It’s a tragic challenge. I say that especially as the father of three daughters.
“But it’s a challenge we can do something about.
“And if Washington enacts the bipartisan Protecting Our Infants Act I’m reintroducing today, along with Senator Casey, it’s a challenge we will do something about.
“This bipartisan bill would do a number of important things.
“It would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop recommendations: both for preventing prenatal opioid abuse, and for treating infants born dependent on opioids.
“It would direct the Secretary to help develop a strategy to address research and program gaps: a step recommended by a Government Accountability Office report released just last month.
“And it would encourage the Director of the CDC to work with states and help improve surveillance and data collection activities in this area.
“No piece of legislation could ever solve this challenge overnight. But the bipartisan Protecting Our Infants Act can help move our country in the right direction.
“That’s why it’s supported by the March of Dimes, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
“And that’s why an identical bill will also be introduced in the House of Representatives today, by Congresswoman Katherine Clark, of Massachusetts, and Congressman Steve Stivers, of Ohio.
“I commend these Representatives, and Senator Casey, for their leadership on this issue.
“I look forward to working with them to advance this important measure through Congress.
“And I look forward to discussing it with Director Botticelli during his visit to Kentucky as well.”
Related Issues: Defending Life, Opioid Abuse