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house Bill H.R. 501

Should Poison Control Centers Be Reauthorized Through 2024?

Argument in favor

Poison control centers save lives, serve as an important line of defense against the opioid epidemic, help collect information about substance abuse, and disseminate important information about poison control. By preventing unnecessary ER visits, they help save the healthcare system — and individuals — $1.8 billion a year.

Kathy's Opinion
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02/25/2019
As an emergency department nurse I know this service is vital. Why is this an issue? This should be permanent
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Rebekah 's Opinion
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02/24/2019
This is common sense and saves 1.8 billion every year. It’s exactly the kind of collective assistance and coordination the federal government is supposed to provide — NOT enriching corporations or Wall Street who pay no taxes.
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Kodiwodi's Opinion
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02/25/2019
This should be automatic. This shouldn’t even come up for debate in this society of Tide Pod eaters.
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Argument opposed

There’s no need to maintain a nationwide network of over 50 poison control centers. Rather than paying over half a million dollars to maintain a poison control center in each state, it’d be better to consolidate all U.S. poison control centers into one large call center that serves the entire country.

operaman's Opinion
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02/25/2019
Ask the question as to why taxpayers are paying for Poison Control Center? It's because the states are skirting their fiduciary responsibility. The states are like rats being fed by the Federal Government. They breed and returns to the government trap for a handout. Ever dollar the states save can be applied towards wind power or a dream train project to nowhere.
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AvaN's Opinion
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02/25/2019
There really is no need to have one in every state. Let’s have one and the funding go to that. No need to spend $18 billion over the course of five years to have a center in every state.
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Ronald's Opinion
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02/25/2019
This is a local concern. States should handle, and fund this. Get our Federal Out of this, and all State issues.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Health
    IntroducedJanuary 11th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 501?

This bill — the Poison Control Network Enhancement Act of 2019 — would reauthorize the U.S. poison control center program for another five years, from 2020-2024. The program would receive $700,000 each year.

This bill would also reauthorize the nationwide public awareness campaign program to promote poison control center utilization, directing the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to carry out and expand a national public awareness campaign to educate the public and health care providers about: 1) poisoning, toxic exposure, and drug misuse prevention, and 2) poison control center resources’ availability in local communities.

This bill would also reauthorize the poison control center grant program, giving the DHS Secretary discretion to award grants totalling up to $28.6 million a year to poison control centers and nationally recognized professional organizations in the field of poison control for the purposes of:

  • Preventing, and providing treatment recommendations for, poisonings and toxic exposures, including opioid misuse;
  • Assisting with public health emergencies, responses, and preparedness; and
  • Complying with the operational requirements needed to sustain a poison control center’s accreditation.

Poison control centers or nationally recognized professional organizations in the field of poison control could also receive money to research poison prevention methods, improve toxic exposure and opioid misuse surveillance, develop communications and response between poison control centers, and a range of other initiatives that’d make poison control centers more effective.

There are 55 poison control centers across the U.S. that’d be affected by this bill.

Impact

Poison control centers; hospitals; 911 operators; professional organizations in the field of poison control; public awareness campaigns about poison control centers; and the DHS Secretary.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 501

$125.00 Million
When this bill was introduced in the 115th Congress, the CBO estimated that it’d cost $125 million over the 2019-2023 period.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to reauthorize the national poison control program for another five years. When he and Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) introduced this bill last Congress, Rep. Engel said:

“Speedy access to poison centers through the national toll-free number – (800) 222-1222 – is an essential resource for all Americans, especially parents, who can take solace in the fact that there are 55 poison centers across the United States available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Poison centers offer real-time, lifesaving assistance, while at the same time saving hundreds of millions in federal dollars. On top of that, these centers are playing a key role in the fight to end the opioid epidemic. I was proud to co-author the last poison center reauthorization in 2014, and I am proud to be a part of this bipartisan legislation.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Brooks added more information about poison control centers’ role in fighting the opioid epidemic:

“In one month alone, there were 9,039 opioid exposures reported to poison control centers nationwide. Since 2011, poison control centers have been working behind the scenes to fight against the opioid epidemic and have handled about 500,000 cases of opioid misuse and abuse – that’s approximately 192 cases per day, every day. Poison control centers save countless lives, prevent toxic exposure and poisoning injury, and reduce billions of dollars in unnecessary healthcare costs. The data poison centers collect can even be used to identify hotspots for opioid misuse and overdose. I am proud to introduce a bill with my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee that will help those who find themselves in an emergency situation by enhancing the centers within the National Poison Data System that offer free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

After this bill’s passage through the House Energy and Commerce Committee in May 2018, Rep. Engel said:

“Most of us already know about much of the work poison centers do, but many may not know about the critical role poison centers are playing in the fight to end the opioid crisis. It is absolutely essential that this work continues. In Westchester County, 124 people died due to opioids in 2016. In the Bronx, more New Yorkers died of overdoses than in any other borough. We must do more to end this epidemic, and I am proud to see this important bill moving forward as part of that effort.”

In 2011, then-president of the American Association of Poison Control Centers Richard Dart MD, PhD, FACEP, FACMT defended poison control centers as “important partners in assuring the health of all Americans,” writing that:

“Every dollar spent on a poison center saves at least $7 in health care costs, and one study estimates that in 2007, every dollar of state funding the Banner Poison Center in Arizona received saved $36 in unnecessary health care costs. More than three-fourths of all poison exposure cases can be treated at home without the patient requiring a face to face health care visit. The cost savings are obvious: In 2005, the average cost of an emergency department visit was $745 while the average cost per call to a poison center was about $30… Our members’ call centers and data can help both governmental and non-governmental organizations fulfill their needs. It is not easy work, but it is rewarding work and it is necessary work to assure a successful future.”

Then-Rep. Denny Rehberg (D-MT) sponsored a bill that would’ve eliminated all but one of the U.S.’ poison control centers in 2011, arguing at the time that there was simply no need to maintain multiple poison control centers across the country:

"There's just no reason to maintain 57 separate call centers around the country when technology would enable us to get the job done with one. We can save millions simply by cutting out 56 duplicative locations and with record debt and deficits putting our future in jeopardy, it's worth looking under every rock for savings."

Mark Ryan, then-director of the Louisiana Poison Center, pushed back against Rep. Rehberg’s assertion, saying, “Local relationships are invaluable. There's no way a single center could get in there and provide for the wants and needs of every state. It's not possible." Ryan also warned against putting all resources into a single entity, asking, “What happens if the hypothetical 'single' center gets wiped out by a tornado and the infrastructure is destroyed? Where are those 12,000+ calls each day going to go?"

This bill has three bipartisan cosponsors, including two Republicans and one Democrat, in the current session of Congress. Last Congress, it passed the House by a voice vote with the support of 12 bipartisan cosponsors, including eight Republicans and four Democrats.  However, it didn’t receive a vote in the Senate.


Of NoteSince 2011, U.S. poison centers have handed nearly 200 opioid misuse cases a day, helped detect trends in the opioid epidemic, and educated Americans about ways to potentially save their loved ones’ lives in the event of an overdose or other adverse event connected with opioid abuse. In its written Appropriations justification to Congress, HHS has acknowledged poison control centers’ critical role in combating opioid and synthetic drug (and heroin) abuse and misuse.

Private citizens aren’t the only people who rely on poison control centers. In 2009, 16 percent of the 4.2 million calls poison control centers answered came from hospitals seeking their expertise to verify that the treatment they’d administered to patients was correct. Additionally, when individuals call 911, the 911 operator also conferences in the poison control center for a three-way conversation. This is because the staff at poison control centers include nurses, physicians, and pharmacists with specialized poison center training and a toxicologist, who’s always on call.

In 2015, poison control centers managed 2.8 million calls — an average of 8,000 calls a day, or one every 11 seconds. Of the approximately 2.2 million poisonings reported in 2015, 67 percent were managed at the site of exposure, avoiding unnecessary ER visits. It’s estimated that every dollar invested in the poison center system saves $13.39 in medical costs and lost productivity, and poison control centers also reduce healthcare costs in the U.S. by more $1.8 billion annually.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / GaryAlvis)

AKA

Poison Center Network Enhancement Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize and enhance the poison center national toll-free number, national media campaign, and grant program, and for other purposes.

    As an emergency department nurse I know this service is vital. Why is this an issue? This should be permanent
    Like (22)
    Follow
    Share
    Ask the question as to why taxpayers are paying for Poison Control Center? It's because the states are skirting their fiduciary responsibility. The states are like rats being fed by the Federal Government. They breed and returns to the government trap for a handout. Ever dollar the states save can be applied towards wind power or a dream train project to nowhere.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    This is common sense and saves 1.8 billion every year. It’s exactly the kind of collective assistance and coordination the federal government is supposed to provide — NOT enriching corporations or Wall Street who pay no taxes.
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    This should be automatic. This shouldn’t even come up for debate in this society of Tide Pod eaters.
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    This seems like one of those rare times a government program saves lives and more money that it costs to run. It should be renewed.
    Like (6)
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    The fact that this is even being asked is unsettling. Of it course should be funded.
    Like (6)
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    They save lives AND money....where's the bad?
    Like (5)
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    There really is no need to have one in every state. Let’s have one and the funding go to that. No need to spend $18 billion over the course of five years to have a center in every state.
    Like (4)
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    Saving money by refunding the centers is certainly important but saving lives by refunding the centers is fundamentally imperative.
    Like (4)
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    Absolutely. This is a no brainer
    Like (3)
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    Seriously? This shouldn’t be a blip on the radar. Something as key to saving lives like this shouldn’t be a question.
    Like (3)
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    This is a local concern. States should handle, and fund this. Get our Federal Out of this, and all State issues.
    Like (3)
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    Funding for poison control centers save 1.8 billion annually making this bill imperative to pass. Poison control centers saves lives, decreases unneeded ER visits , and acts as a resource to medical professionals when expertise out of their specific knowledge base is needed. Arguements state that this could be handle from one central poison control center instead of individual units across the states. This could be a more long term goal but in the mean time this funding will save lives and money.
    Like (2)
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    This is beyond right or left wing politics. It’s about people. It’s more expensive but keep it local. “one giant call center” will de-evolve Into a system like a software help line. You know how well that works.
    Like (2)
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    Yes, keeping protections for children is a good thing.
    Like (2)
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    This seems like the most obvious government program to renew! Poison control centers provide a critical lifeline for Americans who may have consumed a toxic substance. Reauthorize it now!
    Like (2)
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    Why is this even a question?
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    Poison control centers have saved many lives. Please vote to fund them all.
    Like (2)
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    I think Poison Control is an important Health center that we need in existence.
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    Keep funding the poison control program. I know there are some that disagree, so let them poison themselves, but people should have a resource to deal with accidents and mishaps.
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