Clark bill to help opioid-exposed infants passes unanimously in U.S. House
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Katherine Clark’s legislation to help newborns suffering from opioid exposure passed unanimously in the U.S. House. The Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015 (H.R. 1462) is the first federal legislation to help newborns suffering from opiate exposure. Babies born with the condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome are hospitalized for weeks and can suffer from seizures, respiratory impairments, tremors, fever, and difficulty feeding. Because there is no standardized diagnosis and treatment for these newborns, hospitals across the country have begun piecing together their own treatments in response to the surge of NAS births.
“Our nation‘s opioid crisis cuts across all boundaries, destroys lives, and has a devastating impact on hundreds of newborns every day,” said Clark. “Newborns suffering from opioid withdrawal are the youngest victims of our shared battle with the opioid crisis. I’m grateful that the House came together today to pass the Protecting Our Infants Act and make a positive difference for millions.”
Research published in the Journal of Perinatology found that the number of infants suffering from withdrawal grew nearly five-fold from 2000 to 2012. On average, the data showed, an infant is born with drug withdrawal every 25 minutes in the United States, accounting for an estimated $1.5 billion in health care expenditures; 80 percent of which is paid for with Medicaid dollars. This, too, amounts to a sharp increase, effectively doubling in cost since 2009.
The bipartisan, bicameral Protecting Our Infants Act directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify and make available best practices for the diagnosis and treatment of NAS, evaluate and coordinate federal efforts to research and respond to NAS, and assist state health agencies with their data collection efforts.
More information about the Protecting Our Infants Act can be found here.