This week, the House of Representatives passed 5 bills cosponsored by Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10) aimed at combating the opioid epidemic.

“This week’s passage of these bills through the House will make meaningful impacts in Southwest Ohio to combat the opioid epidemic. Specifically, the bills I cosponsored will secure our postal system from being used to traffic opioids, make it more difficult for drugs like fentanyl to come into our country, improve treatment courts for our veterans, create a loan repayment program to encourage medical professionals to provide substance abuse treatment services in areas with greatest need, and help recovering low-income individuals find transitional housing in environments conducive to rehabilitation. These bills will make impactful changes to prevent people from getting these dangerous drugs and help those who have become addicted to recover. I will continue to fight to combat the opioid epidemic.”

Congressman Turner cosponsored the below bills that passed the House this week:

H.R. 5735, Transitional Housing for Recovery in Viable Environments Demonstration Program Act: Creates a demonstration housing assistance program to provide low-income individuals recovering from opioid/other substance use disorders with a clean, safe, and structured environment. Housing assistance providers must: (1) offer an evidence-based treatment program and job skills training for individuals recovering from an opioid/substance abuse disorder that meet standards set by the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD); and (2) demonstrate prior experience in administering housing vouchers.

H.R. 2851, Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act: Creates a new schedule – Schedule A – to address the problem of synthetic chemical analogues of already-controlled substances, which threaten public health. A substance may be placed on Schedule A if it has a chemical structure that is substantially similar to an existing controlled substance in Schedules I through V and physiological effects on humans equal to or greater than an existing controlled substance. Adds 13 synthetic analogues of fentanyl to the new Schedule A immediately. Permits more rapid control of these dangerous substances as they are identified, and equips law enforcement with additional criminal and civil tools to halt trafficking of these drug “look-alikes” into the United States.

H.R. 5788, Securing the International Mail Against Opioids Act of 2018: Imposes additional requirements on the United States Postal Service and Customs & Border Protection to address the opioid crisis by securing international mail, which is often a means for smuggling dangerous synthetic opioids like fentanyl into the U.S. Mandates advance electronic data screening of inbound shipments into the United States in order to identify and intercept illegal substances, including opioids as well as other dangerous, counterfeit, and patent-infringing goods, before they enter the United States. Congressman Turner cosponsored very similar legislation – H.R. 1057, the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act.

H.R. 5102, Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act of 2018: Creates a capped loan repayment program for substance use disorder (SUD) treatment providers in exchange for up to 6 years of work as a SUD treatment professional in areas most in need of such services. Program will be available to a wide range of direct patient medical care providers, including physicians, registered nurses, social workers, and other behavioral health professionals. Regardless of how many years a medical professional agrees to serve, the annual student loan payment he/she receives will be 1/6 of the initial, total student loan balance. Accordingly, if a SUD treatment professional serves for the full 6 year term in a high-need region, he/she will have repaid the entire student loan amount.

H.R. 2147, Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act: Directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to hire at least 50 Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) specialists, place each one at an eligible VA medical center, and ensure that each serves as part of a justice team in a veterans treatment court or other veteran-focused court. Establishes criteria to determine eligible VA medical centers, including working within a local criminal justice system for justice-involved veterans, maintaining an affiliation with a veterans treatments court, and either routinely assigning VJO specialists to serve as part of a justice team in a veterans treatment court or establishing a plan to do so. Prioritizes placement of VJO specialists for VA medical centers that have, or intend to have, an affiliation with a veterans treatment court.