Our nation and Massachusetts have been in the grips of an opioid addiction crisis. Since coming to Congress, I have been committed to addressing the epidemic by ensuring access to treatment, improving health care provider education, supporting prevention efforts, and reducing the stigma that surrounds people struggling with addiction, in the justice system and elsewhere.
In 2015, President Obama signed my Protecting our Infants Act into law, which was the first federal legislation designed to help newborns suffering from opioid exposure. Now, because of this law, we have the first government report on how to prevent and treat neonatal abstinence syndrome. As part of the 2016 Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), I successfully advocated for the inclusion of youth substance use disorders specialists on a pain management task force, recognizing that when addiction begins at a young age, it has a distinct and far-reaching impact on everything from brain development to education and social skills.
In 2018, two of my bills addressing two different sides of the opioid crisis were signed into law. The first addresses the shortage of addiction treatment professionals by providing up to $250,000 of student loan repayment per participant who works in a dedicated substance use treatment role in an area of high need for up to 6 years. The other will expand the use of electronic prescribing of controlled substances under Medicare Part D and ensure that we have the tools necessary to reduce doctor shopping and fraud.
By continuing to listen to experts and families dealing with this terrible disease up close, I am doing everything I can to get us past this crisis.