Valley's congressman co-sponsors bill to combat heroin - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio


Valley's congressman co-sponsors bill to combat heroin

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As we continue our reporting on the heroin and opiate epidemic in our area, Valley Congressman Tim Ryan is among two federal lawmakers taking action they believe will save lives.

The Breaking Addiction Act of 2014, or H.R. 5136, proposes to offer greater access to inpatient treatment for those addicted to heroin and opiates.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, a Democrat representing the 11th District in Cleveland, introduced the bill on Thursday, Valley Congressman Tim Ryan, a Democrat representing the 13th District, is the co-sponsor.

Congressman Ryan tells 21 News, "This is a wise prudent investment for our government to make. This demonstration project will continue to bear that out and build that case. It's gonna save lives."

In 2012, nearly 2000 Ohioans lost their lives due to heroin and opiate overdoses. It's believed some died waiting for inpatient treatment beds to become available. A woman we'll just refer to as Allison is

four and a half years sober, but knows first hand that people are dying in record numbers from the heroin addiction.

"In the past month six people in my personal circle have died from this disease, and that's just people in my personal circle," Allison said.

The Breaking Addiction Act of 2014 would override a 50 year old barrier to funding when it comes to Medicaid services and in-patient treatment, meaning more in-patient beds would be available, along with federal reimbursements for local facilities like Neil Kennedy Recover Clinic.

Colleen McKenna is the Director of the Catholic Charities Women's Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Center in Cleveland, "This bill would afford additional dollars to reimburse treatment centers for their services because residential treatment is the most intensive level of care for our clients and it's also the most costly. But statistics support it's really successful with opiate addicts."

The five-year pilot program would be limited to eight to ten states. The overall goal to expand cost-effective, community based treatment, and stop the heroin epidemic in it's tracks, according to Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, "We have the ability to make people better and we need to use it."

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