Nurses work to stem the opioid crisis

  

Nurses see firsthand the devastating effects of the opioid crisis on their patients, communities, and perhaps even themselves or their families. ANA members have been forthcoming in their stories about access, treatment, and the pain they have dealt with each and every day working to fight this crisis. That’s why many are cheering the Trump administration’s work on the crisis, with the First Lady leading the administrative efforts for declaring it a national emergency, as nurses team with emergency responders, policymakers, law enforcement, and other stakeholders in the fight to turn the tide on the devastating effects of opioid abuse in local communities.

The statistics are sobering: 64,000 Americans lost their lives to drug misuse in 2016. The number of people misusing prescription opioids in 2015 is even more alarming, 12.5 million people. There is hope—however, a comprehensive approach is needed from the ground level all the way up through state and federal governments in order to address the crisis. ANA supports nurses who are facing this crisis head on through targeted continuing education, support of federal legislation that supports nurses to practice to the full extent of their training and education, and supporting/advocating for policies that allow APRNs to prescribe medication assisted therapy, which has proven effective in stemming substance use disorder.

Within the walls of Congress, there are currently over a hundred of bills aimed at addressing varying aspects of the opioid crisis. Two in particular are at top of ANAs priorities for opioid legislation. In the Senate ANA has signed on to support is Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act, introduced by Bob Casey (D-PA) and Ed Markey (D-MA). In the House, Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced H.R. 3692, the Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act with support from ANA and our nursing partners. The latter bill aims to build on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act in order to allow clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists to practice to the full extent of their training and education in prescribing buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine, however, is just one piece of the puzzle in treating opioid dependency. As with all medications used in Medication Assisted Therapies (MAT), it is just one part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes addressing the underlying issues through counseling and participation in social support programs. Nurses play a primary role in comprehensive treatment plans and will continue to be integral in treating the most vulnerable populations throughout the country. ANA urges you to continue to voice your support in this fight by contacting your representatives and asking them to support H.R. 3692.

 

And Here’s What You Missed On Healthcare!

  

On Monday – The Congressional Budget Office – a nonpartisan group that calculates the impact of proposed legislation – said the so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act would leave tens of millions more Americans without coverage in the next decade, but it would also save the government a lot of money. That didn’t help convince any Democrats to back it. But – surprise – many GOP senators aren’t pleased either.

On Tuesday – The Senate delayed the vote on its healthcare plan until after the July 4th break. As a reminder, the plan includes things like a cap on federal funding for Medicaid and a temporary freeze on Planned Parenthood funding. It keeps the rule that insurance companies can’t arbitrarily raise prices for people with pre-existing conditions, but has a caveat that could still increase certain healthcare costs for them. Some say the bill doesn’t do enough to roll back Obamacare. And others are worried cutting funding for things like Medicaid and Planned Parenthood would hurt the Americans who need it most.

On Thursday – Senate GOP lawmakers are adding some extra money to their healthcare bill to help fight the opioid crisis. In recent years, the number of people in the US who have become addicted to opioids (think: heroin and prescription painkillers like oxycodone) has gone way up. Especially in rural parts of America. Cutting how much money states get for Medicaid would mean less money to spend on helping people fight addictions. Many Senators from both sides of the aisle – especially from states hard hit by the opioid crisis – are not down with this. So now, the GOP’s adding $45 billion to their bill specifically for substance abuse treatment. Governors on both side of the aisle say this isn’t enough.

Today – GOP Senators are going back to the drawing board, with new amendments and negotiations, some of which include a repeal and replace-later plan. Which means they’ll wait for another CBO review before putting version 2.0 to a vote.

Now – Senators are heading home for a week of recess, aka district work period, and they need to continue to hear from you.

The Senate made a last-minute decision to delay the vote – all because of nurses like YOU, joining with others across the country, calling every single day to speak out for your patients and the 22 million people at risk of losing their health care.

But a delay isn’t a victory. And your patients deserve a victory.

Even if you’ve already called – even if you already know where your Senators stand – we need EVERYONE to call again.

We’ve seen what can happen when they think we’re not watching: when this bill was in the House, there was a delay just like this week’s delay in the Senate, and lawmakers saw that the calls were slowing down. Just when their constituents let up on the pressure, they rushed their bill through to pass by the thinnest margin.

We absolutely cannot let that happen again!

President Obama Signs 21st Century Cures Act

  

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ANA was proud to be in attendance as  was signed into law (represented by Michelle Artz, Director of Government Affairs). Throughout the year ANA advocated for key elements of the legislation including opioid epidemic funding, comprehensive mental health reform, and investments toward curing cancer.

Statement from the White House:

For nearly a year, President Obama has been calling for real resources to address the opioid crisis and ensure that hundreds of thousands of Americans can get the treatment they need. The bipartisan passage of the bill exemplifies the progress we can make when both parties work together to improve the lives of people across the country.

“The Cures Act makes important investments that will save lives. First, for the families and communities that have lost too many loved ones to the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic, it invests the $1 billion I requested in my budget to address this crisis. Second, the bill answers the Vice President’s call for a Moonshot in cancer research by investing $1.8 billion in new resources to accelerate discoveries. Third, it invests nearly $3 billion to build upon the major biomedical research initiatives we have launched in my Administration – known as the BRAIN and Precision Medicine Initiatives – which are tackling diseases like Alzheimer’s and creating new research models to find cures and better target treatments. Fourth, the Cures Act takes important steps to improve mental health, including building on the work of my Administration’s Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force. And fifth, the legislation advances the progress we’ve made in improving the Food and Drug Administration’s drug development process by, for example, making sure patients’ voices are part of those decisions.

This is a reminder of what we can do when we look out for one another. Like Joe Biden and so many other Americans, I’ve lost people I love deeply to cancer. I’ve heard often from those whose loved ones are suffering from Alzheimer’s, addiction, and other debilitating diseases. Their heartbreak is real, and so we have a responsibility to respond with real solutions. This bill will make a big difference, and I look forward to signing it as soon as it reaches my desk.” President Barack Obama