On Opioids, Congress Must Continue To Do Its Part
‘So today, I’m proud to announce legislation to address this crisis’s devastating effects on the American worker, and the American workforce… The Comprehensive Addiction Recovery through Effective Employment and Reentry, or CAREER, Act would bring targeted relief to the states most devastated by substance abuse. This state-based pilot program would encourage local businesses and treatment groups to form partnerships to help those in recovery find and maintain employment.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery through Effective Employment and Reentry (CAREER) Act and our nation’s opioid epidemic:
“Our nation’s opioid epidemic continues to plague communities and families in my home state of Kentucky and across the nation. Here in Congress, we’re doing our best to support the healthcare and law enforcement professionals who battle it every day. Last week, I introduced the Protecting Moms and Infants Act, a bipartisan effort to confront the heartbreaking cases of prenatal and infant opioid addiction. It builds on my 2015 bill, the Protecting Our Infants Act, and Congress’s other recent progress on this issue.
“In recent years, Congress has bolstered prevention, treatment, and enforcement efforts through the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act. And the recent government funding bill dedicated a record level of resources to saving lives from heroin and prescription drug abuse. But much more work remains. So today, I’m proud to announce legislation to address this crisis’s devastating effects on the American worker, and the American workforce. Stable employment is not just a path to financial security for workers and families. Earning a paycheck from a job is also linked to personal happiness and even physical health.
“We see firsthand in Kentucky the need for the structure and support that come with a job to help keep former addicts from falling back into the cycle of addiction. According to the CEO of a treatment facility in Louisville, ‘stable housing and employment are vitally tied to an individual’s recovery.’ But unfortunately, in the very communities where employment could do so much good, the opioid crisis itself is making it harder to attain.
“I frequently hear Kentucky employers cite substance abuse as a major hurdle to finding and hiring suitable applicants. One study traced roughly 25 percent of the decline in workforce participation between 1999 and 2015 to the opioid crisis. That amounts to about one million missing workers. No wonder the Trump administration reports the epidemic cost our economy half a trillion dollars in 2015 alone. And the economic cost pales in comparison to the human costs that addiction and joblessness inflict.
“The Comprehensive Addiction Recovery through Effective Employment and Reentry, or CAREER, Act would bring targeted relief to the states most devastated by substance abuse. This state-based pilot program would encourage local businesses and treatment groups to form partnerships to help those in recovery find and maintain employment.
“The legislation expands housing block grants, to encourage more transitional housing options for recovering addicts until they secure permanent arrangements. It gives states more flexibility to spend federal career services and training funds to support specific initiatives dedicated to helping individuals transition from treatment to the workforce. In short, this bill does exactly what the experts tell us needs to be done on this front.
“This morning, Chairman Alexander and the HELP Committee are reviewing comprehensive opioid legislation. I commend the Chairman for his diligent efforts on this subject. It’s my hope the committee will choose to include some of the proposals in the Protecting Moms and Infants Act and the CAREER Act in their larger package. This epidemic requires our continued attention. On behalf of those in Kentucky and all over the country who are struggling, we’re determined to keep doing our part.”
Related Issues: Opioid Abuse