Whether in our smallest towns or biggest cities, families across Indiana are losing loved ones to the scourge of opioid abuse and addiction. When the jobs go out, the drugs come in – too many communities already struggling to cope with the loss of good-paying jobs that have sapped them of pride and needed resources now must deal with a second threat of addiction and abuse that can cause unimaginable strain.
Put simply, the opioid epidemic is a tragedy the likes of which Heartland America has not seen in modern times, and it will take all of us, working together, to begin to make it right. Joe believes in a comprehensive approach that addresses the epidemic at every step of the way—from modern prescribing practices which understand that today’s painkiller can be the start of tomorrow’s addiction, to updated best practices for first responders treating overdoses; from adequate resources for those in rehabilitation and recovery to supporting rural economic drivers that address the workforce shortage in underserved areas.
Joe’s worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on the issue, and his ideas were a crucial piece of the first major bipartisan legislation to address the crisis - the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act, or CARA. Thanks to Joe, the bill created a new task force to develop modernized prescribing practices and raise awareness of the updated standards in an attempt to stop addiction before it starts. Joe also amended the bill to encourage first responders to connect those who have received naloxone with treatment and other follow-up services.
Our rural communities are often those struggling the most with this epidemic, yet Joe understands that they’re most in need of the resources to help combat it. He’s searched for new ways to increase the number of rural health care treatment providers who are on the front lines of the crisis. He’s introduced bipartisan legislation, like his Strengthening the Addiction Workforce and Treatment Act, that would provide new incentives to attract providers to hard-hit rural communities, by making addiction treatment facilities eligible for a federal student loan repayment and forgiveness program. Additional bipartisan bills from Joe would increase the accessibility of telemedicine for substance abuse programs and funding for community facilities addressing opioid and drug abuse.