Kilmer-Backed Policies to Help Address the Opioid Crisis Pass House

Kilmer: “Today should just be the start.”

WASHINGTON, DCToday the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan package of policies to help address the opioid crisis in communities nationwide. The legislation included policies Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) cosponsored.

“Communities across America shouldn’t be alone in the struggle to help our friends and neighbors facing opioid addiction,” Kilmer said. “These bills provide grants for more treatment centers, fund research for less addictive pain treatment, and reinforce the ranks of our addiction health care providers. Today’s bills should just be the start. Congress should expand the availability of beds to treat people trying to break addiction’s grip. It should protect health care access for all Americans, especially those with pre-existing conditions which could include a history of substance use disorders, and it should reverse decisions that have made it more expensive for Americans to purchase insurance.” 

Kilmer co-sponsored seven of the bills that passed today. They were:

  • H.R. 449, Synthetic Drug Awareness Act, Sponsored by Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Trey Gowdy (R-SC):  This bill is designed to measure and mitigate the detrimental effects of synthetic drugs across America.  It requires the Surgeon General to report to Congress on the health effects of the rise in synthetic drug use among young people aged 12 to 18.  The study will be used to educate parents and the medical community on the health effects of these synthetic drugs.
  • H.R. 5009, Jessie’s Law, Sponsored by Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI):  This bill, named after a Michigan resident who tragically died of an opioid overdose in 2016, helps ensure doctors have access to a consenting patient’s prior history of addiction in order to make fully informed care and treatment decisions.  The bill is designed to prevent cases like Jessie’s, where a recovering addict was unknowingly prescribed and discharged with a powerful opioid that led to her death.   
  • H.R. 5102, Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act, Sponsored by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Harold Rogers (R-KY):  This bill is designed to address the shortage of substance use disorder professionals.  It offers $250,000 for participants who agree to work as a substance use disorder treatment professional in areas most in need of their services. Experts estimate that only 10 to 15 percent of Americans who currently need this treatment are actually receiving it.   
  • H.R. 5176, POWER (Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms) Act, Sponsored by Reps. David McKinley (R-WV) and Mike Doyle (D-PA):  This bill is designed to provide patients who have overdosed better access to treatment when they get discharged from emergency rooms.  It sets up protocols for emergency rooms on how best to discharge overdose patients, including ensuring access to the overdose antidote naloxone and to other medication-assisted treatment.


  • H.R. 5197, Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) in the Emergency Department Act, Sponsored by Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and David McKinley (R-WV) :  This bill establishes a demonstration project to test alternative pain management protocols to limit the use of opioids in hospital emergency departments.  The bill also authorizes grant funding to build these programs.  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is required to submit a report to Congress on the results of the program and issue recommendations for broader implementation.  


  • H.R. 5327, Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act, Sponsored by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Gene Green (D-TX):   This bill allows HHS to award grants to treatment facilities in order to establish or operate comprehensive centers that provide a full range of treatment services.  The bill requires evidence-based practices and data reporting to ensure accountability. 
  • H.R. 5473, Better Pain Management Through Better Data Act, Sponsored by Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM):  This bill is designed to help our doctors reduce the prevalence of and addiction to opioids.  It facilitates better clinical data on non-opioid alternatives so doctors have more prescribing options and fewer opioids are prescribed. 


Kilmer has worked across the aisle to address the opioid epidemic. With Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), he introduced the bipartisan Substance Abuse Treatment Accessibility Act, which would help communities access funds to quickly build up mental health and addiction treatment centers.

In March, Kilmer supported a government spending bill that included nearly $4 billion in funds to help people facing opioid addiction.

As reported in The Hill, most of this $4 billion was a new appropriation.  Those funds included $1 billion in new grants to states and tribes to fight the epidemic, at least $500 million for a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) effort to research opioid addiction, a $350 million increase to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for prevention and surveillance, $130 million for assistance specifically for rural communities.

Kilmer has also used his seat on the House Committee on Appropriations to help fund efforts to address the crisis. In 2016, he called on the Department of Health and Human Services to make more doses of naloxone, a fast-acting drug that reverses opioid overdose and saves lives, available to first responders.

He co-led the effort in Congress to introduce the Opioid and Heroin Abuse Crisis Investment Act, which called for an additional $1 billion in funding for communities that are hardest hit by the crisis, and he voted in support of the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act, which directed the Department of Veterans Affairs to better track opioid use by veterans, increased accountability for practitioners who over-prescribe opioids, and allowed more health care workers like nurse practitioners to administer treatment for opioid addiction.