Recently released data indicates that overdose deaths in 2019 rose past the peak of overdose deaths in America seen in 2017.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said on Wednesday that preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention showed that there were 70,980 overdose deaths last year, exceeding the 70,699 deaths in 2017.
“The troubling CDC data ought to serve as a wake-up call for all of us. Every overdose death is devastating to the family and community affected, and we cannot allow this spike to continue without action. We must redouble our efforts to combat the addiction crisis,” Portman said in a statement. “For more than 25 years, one of my top priorities has been to combat the addiction crisis that’s hit communities in my home state of Ohio so hard. This resurgence of overdose deaths is particularly discouraging because, in recent years, we began to make progress, with a 22 percent reduction in Ohio overdose deaths in 2018. However, this new CDC data makes it clear that there’s still more work to be done.
Portman recently introduced the Telehealth Response for E-Prescribing Addiction Treatment Services (TREATS) Act, which would make permanent temporary waivers for telehealth services for addiction treatment services that would allow health care professionals to prescribe medications like buprenorphine via telehealth. Additionally, it would permit Medicare to bill for audio-only telehealth visits if it is not the patient’s first visit.
“I am very concerned about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our efforts to combat addiction. The federal response to the coronavirus crisis has thus far focused on cutting red tape and regulatory relief to expand telehealth options for opioid treatment, and an increase in alternate delivery methods for patients quarantined at home to maintain their access opioid treatment providers,” Portman said. “Congress must ensure our local communities and addiction providers have the resources they need to adapt to this new reality, and I will continue to I will continue to help lead efforts in the U.S. Senate to combat this addiction crisis.”