US Senate News:
Source: United States Senator for West Virginia Shelley Moore Capito
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) this week joined Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and a bipartisan group of House members in introducing legislation to reauthorize the Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) in the Emergency Department program at $10 million annually over five years. The ALTO program was created in 2018 by a Capito and Booker-led measure in the Senate that was included in the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act.
“Last year, we lost more Americans than ever before to drug overdoses, and it’s another reminder that we need to redouble our efforts to curb the addiction crisis in our country,” Senator Capito said. “Doing so requires an all-hands-on-deck approach and the ALTO in the Emergency Department Act is a tool that will help in this fight. Millions of opioid prescriptions are written each year, and a significant portion of opioid overdose deaths involve these prescription opioids. There are alternatives to treating pain that can help save lives, and that is exactly what our bill aims to do. By helping to explore non-opioid pain treatments, I am hopeful this bill will help decrease opioid usage in West Virginia.”
“Successfully addressing the devastating effects and unimaginable pain caused by the opioid epidemic requires a holistic and innovative response such as the one pioneered by St. Joseph’s Medical Hospital in New Jersey for years,” Senator Booker said. “I’m proud to introduce legislation that will ensure St. Joe’s innovative program can continue to be a blueprint of success for communities, helping us reduce the number of opioid prescriptions written in emergency rooms across our nation.”
In 2020, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded $4,750,000 to ten hospitals and emergency departments across the country for ALTO Demonstration Program. The legislation introduced will make ALTO a permanent program and provide funding for more hospitals and emergency departments to develop and implement alternatives to opioids for pain management.
The opioid epidemic continues to claim the lives of thousands of Americans throughout the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose deaths in the United States rose 29.4% in 2020 to an estimated 93,331, including 69,710 involving opioids. In addition, more than 2.2 million people have an opioid use disorder.
Companion legislation has been introduced in the House by Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J.-09), David McKinley (W.Va.-01), Diana DeGette (Colo.-01), and Brad Wenstrup (Ohio-02).
This legislation is supported by the American College of Emergency Physicians and America’s Essential Hospitals.