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senate Bill S. 524

Does America Need to Reassess How it Handles Opioid Addictions?

Argument in favor

Dealing with opioid and heroin abuse requires a multi-faceted strategy — including preventive education, reforms for prescribing pain medication, and treating addiction. This bill does all that, and lays out a plan that involves stakeholders at the federal, state, and local level.

Alis's Opinion
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09/19/2015
As long as we DO NOT revisit the war on drugs. I don't trust our elected idiots to do anything constructive given their record since the 2000 election. Addiction is problematic but so far all our law makers have done is exponentially increase the prison population, create MORE addicts & prevent people with legitimate needs for pain control from getting necessary medication. I despise our elected officials--that means YOU! If you could get a grip & do something constructive, the citizenry wouldn't hate you quite as much.
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02/27/2016
As an emergency medicine physician I see victims of opiate abuse every day. This is a multifaceted problem involving medicine, economics, psychology, etc. From a medical perspective pain is multifactorial and physicians (as well as NP and PA providers) feel pressure to prescribe opiates for pain which may not rise to that level. A comprehensive approach would include reform to federal medical mandates (patient satisfaction surveys which keep physicians from practicing best medicine), addiction treatment, criminal justice reform. This can only occur on the federal level.
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John's Opinion
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02/26/2016
We need to stop the advertising of all prescription medications; we need put greater constraints on prescription opiates; we need to expand programs to help those addicted to prescription opiates so they don't make the transition to heroin; we need to decriminalize substance abuse (still prosecute sales, but decriminalize usage);
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Argument opposed

Opioid and heroin addiction are problems that can’t be sufficiently mitigated through the best efforts of stakeholders at the federal, state, and local level. The federal government would be better served to focus these resources on one aspect of the problem, like education.

SouthronSteel's Opinion
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02/26/2016
Drug enforcement is not the job of the federal government.
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Carol's Opinion
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03/08/2016
I strongly object to the government making medical decisions that make it harder for chronically ill to receive pain control. As a nurse I have seen both sides of pain issues. Doctors and patients should not be made to jump through hoops to alleviate pain. Let doctors do their job.
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Ken's Opinion
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02/29/2016
Why should the government be involved? The community needs to step up and take responsibility.
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bill Progress


  • EnactedJuly 22nd, 2016
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The house Passed July 8th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 407 Yea / 5 Nay
  • The senate Passed July 13th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 92 Yea / 2 Nay
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedFebruary 12th, 2015

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    As long as we DO NOT revisit the war on drugs. I don't trust our elected idiots to do anything constructive given their record since the 2000 election. Addiction is problematic but so far all our law makers have done is exponentially increase the prison population, create MORE addicts & prevent people with legitimate needs for pain control from getting necessary medication. I despise our elected officials--that means YOU! If you could get a grip & do something constructive, the citizenry wouldn't hate you quite as much.
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    Drug enforcement is not the job of the federal government.
    Like (41)
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    As an emergency medicine physician I see victims of opiate abuse every day. This is a multifaceted problem involving medicine, economics, psychology, etc. From a medical perspective pain is multifactorial and physicians (as well as NP and PA providers) feel pressure to prescribe opiates for pain which may not rise to that level. A comprehensive approach would include reform to federal medical mandates (patient satisfaction surveys which keep physicians from practicing best medicine), addiction treatment, criminal justice reform. This can only occur on the federal level.
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    We need to stop the advertising of all prescription medications; we need put greater constraints on prescription opiates; we need to expand programs to help those addicted to prescription opiates so they don't make the transition to heroin; we need to decriminalize substance abuse (still prosecute sales, but decriminalize usage);
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    I strongly object to the government making medical decisions that make it harder for chronically ill to receive pain control. As a nurse I have seen both sides of pain issues. Doctors and patients should not be made to jump through hoops to alleviate pain. Let doctors do their job.
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    Why should the government be involved? The community needs to step up and take responsibility.
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    First, this should be a state issue. Second, the government should not be mandating what a doctor can or cannot do. This will do nothing to solve the problem of addiction. Punishing chronic pain patients for the actions of addicts is wrong.
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    As you know, the subject of addiction is a hot topic among our elected officials, both federal and state, government-funded entities, such as the DEA, CDC and FDA, and the media. The voices of those who have watched loved ones struggle with addiction have drowned out the voices of those suffering from benign, non-terminal incurable diseases, syndromes and inoperable injuries that cause unrelenting continuous pain, often times comparable to the pain of cancer and some such as CRPS/RSD is worse then cancer and many of its treatments can cause. Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. Chronic pain is the most common cause of long-term disability and is a major contributor to health care costs, costing approximately $600 billion each year in medical treatments and lost productivity. In the US, over 100 million people live with chronic pain. Currently, there is a major shortage of pain management physicians with only an average of 2,500 doctors who specialize in this field of medicine. This would mean that each pain management doctor would have at least 40,000 patients living in constant pain to treat. Most chronic pain patients rely on their primary care physicians to help them manage their pain management treatments, including prescribing medications that give them the ability to function, remain independent, and have some quality to their lives. Most often this reliance is due to the location of where the patient lives, as most pain management doctors are located in bigger cities, and the high cost associated with using a pain management specialist. Currently, with the spotlight on addiction, recently passed legislation that further restricts access to opioid medications and guidelines that assume all chronic pain patients as the same, many of these already-vulnerable patients are no longer able to access the medical care that their lives depend upon. The 2011 IOM committee report commissioned by Congress states that pain is severely under-treated in the US. Within the past couple of months, many primary care physicians have now opted out of treating their chronic pain patients with long-term opioid therapy, including their patients of many years, even decades, that have shown consistent stability, functionality, and responsibility in taking their opioid medications. With the current release of the CDC Guidelines on treating chronic pain, too many patients have now been dismissed by their primary care physicians, cut completely off from the medication they require to be able to function to live, only to find they're unable to access another doctor. These patients can't afford the high cost associated with seeing a pain management doctor, as the monthly office visit, drug test, and traveling hundreds of miles in many cases amount to several hundreds of dollars, even with health insurance coverage that's if a pain specialist is even that close. Chronic pain patients are two to three times more likely than the average patient to commit suicide. This is due to inadequate pain relief. Since most doctors now no longer wish to be held under the microscope associated with prescribing opioids to their patients in constant pain, this has led to great human suffering, as untreated chronic pain can suck the life and soul out of a human. The kind of pain that chews, gnaws, nags, stabs, burns, and aches every second of the day and night. Every. Second. Of. The. Day. Constant. Relentless. Never-ending. Pain. Humans can only withstand so much pain for so long before they start to crack. The constant pain can make one desperate for relief. It can force even the most intelligent, law-abiding citizens of any age to do things they would never even dream of doing if their pain was adequately controlled. We have safe, reliable, affordable FDA-approved medications available here in the US, but there are very few physicians who will now prescribe them. Is adequate pain relief no longer a human right when that relief is obtainable and within our reach? Do we no longer have the basic human right to the “highest attainable standard of health” here in the US? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states "No one shall be subject … to inhuman or degrading treatment.” Withholding much-needed, available, effective government-approved medications that relieve a humans' suffering is more than inhuman and degrading, it's downright barbaric and cruel. I never thought the government of America, the land of the free would purposely withhold adequate, accessible, affordable, safe, approved medication that eases pain and suffering. I always believed that only dictators did that. I certainly never dreamed that the leaders of our country would allow this to happen. The Constitution of the WHO, written in 1949, defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The provision of adequate pain relief falls easily within this definition. Why is our right as humans and chronic pain patients to "the avoidance of unnecessary and severe physical suffering" continued to be trampled upon, as it is causing so many of us to needlessly suffer constant agonizing pain? Is it strictly because of our diagnosis? Why are patients with chronic pain caused by terminal or non-terminal cancer and/or cancer-related treatments more deserving of pain relief than patients with chronic pain caused by benign, yet incurable painful diseases, syndromes or inoperable injuries? If the majority of doctors in this country were withholding much-needed, easily-obtainable, affordable, FDA approved insulin solely because a few deaths have involved insulin overdoses, neglecting the fact that their diabetic patients of many years have been stable on insulin and need insulin, allowing their blood sugar to get out of control, causing them to suffer, even putting their life at risk, would that not be considered medical negligence? What if these same diabetic patients tried finding a doctor to prescribe them the insulin they depended on, yet was unsuccessful who were refused Would the leaders of our country allow this? If a prisoner has the right to adequate pain relief, why do chronic pain patients not have this same right? We're all human beings with rights designed to protect us all we all are supposed to free from being tortured, free from discrimination and free from being punished for anothers crimes. Even with all these protections in place those in pain are not being treated so we're all suffering needlessly
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    My concern is that people who really need the medication will not be able to receive it. My mom is 77 years old and has arthritis. She can't take NSAIDS b/c of her kidney disease. She can go for days without taking Vicadan and then need 3. Not everyone who takes opioids for pain is addicted but seems like she and others like her will suffer the consequences if opiod addiction is main focus.
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    We should focus on education and rehabilitation and not jailing those who need help with their addictions.
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    This is better addressed by each state individually relative to the level of problem.
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    This is an issue best left to the individual states.
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    Not the Federal Government's job. Spending needs to stop somewhere.
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    No, you need to focus on cracking down on the people using and selling opiates illegally, the DEA has already screwed it up for people who actually NEED the drugs to live a normal life. Stop pushing doctors into screwing over patients that need these drugs, pharmacists refusing to refill prescriptions for people that need the drugs. Keep your hands out of healthcare, stick with catching the bad guys.
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    Treatment, treatment, treatment!!! We don't need another War on Drugs, sounded good but didn't help the problem or the people! Oh yea, and by the way....30 days of treatment DOES NOT WORK!! Must be much longer! You want to speak to creating jobs....how about counselor's, nurses specially trained, teachers to re-educate, teachers for re- introduction into society? This is what drug addicts need!! Save the judgement, help the people!!
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    Drugs are public health policy, not criminal policy.
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    Get the federal government out of handeling drugs, this should be a state or municipality issue.
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    Because opioids are the number one cause of overdose deaths. When the segment of your population dealing with opioid induced constipation is large enough to necessitate a Super Bowl ad, things are wrong.
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    Even the field treating addiction doesn't have it right and collusion between providers will be an issue. Stop making prisons the rehab for addictions and mental health.
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    Treating the person who who,is addicted to these substances as a criminal with no real treat enter for the addiction makes no sense in the realm of social justice or economic realities. We must first treat the person before we can begin to solve the problem of drug addiction.
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