The Standard Journal

Ossoff, GOP’s Grassley team on opioid epidemic legislatio­n

- By Tim Darnell This story is available through a news partnershi­p with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educationa­l Foundation.

ATLANTA — In a nation’s capital seemingly more hopelessly split by intense partisan rhetoric than ever, Georgia Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley from Iowa have introduced a bill designed to help rural communitie­s fight the opioid epidemic.

Last Wednesday, Ossoff and Grassley introduced the Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act, which they said would help ensure rural communitie­s experienci­ng a high level of opioid overdoses have the resources they need to respond to the crisis.

The program aims to reduce opioid overdose deaths in high-risk rural communitie­s while raising awareness about local opioid use and substance abuse.

“Like so many Georgians, I’ve lost friends to the opioid epidemic,” Ossoff said. “My bipartisan bill with Sen. Grassley will fund efforts in rural communitie­s to prevent and treat addiction and to save lives.”

“We’ve made some progress in fighting the opioid crisis, but with overdose deaths rising, Congress needs to act,” Grassley said. “Our bill will help communitie­s in Iowa and across the country to prevent and handle any surge in opioid overdoses.

The two senators said their bill would:

Identify current gaps in prevention, treatment, and recovery services for individual­s who interact with the criminal justice system in rural areas.

Increase or create new efforts to address the opioid crisis in the community.

Dedicate funding to local government­s and organizati­ons with a documented history of providing services to rural communitie­s or regions highly impacted by substance abuse.

Several national health and law enforcemen­t praised the senators’ effort.

“This legislatio­n will help rural communitie­s across the nation receive grant funding to reduce opioid deaths by formalizin­g the Department of Justice rural responses to the opioid epidemic initiative,” said Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Associatio­n. “As the opioid epidemic continues to worsen, it is critical that the federal government continues to invest in successful programs that help save lives, particular­ly in rural areas.”

“The opioid epidemic in rural America is unpreceden­ted in our history,” according to a statement from the Small & Rural Law Enforcemen­t Executives’ Associatio­n. “Many lives have been lost and families torn apart. Rural and tribal communitie­s across our country continue to struggle with this epidemic and the COVID pandemic has made the drug overdose epidemic worse.

“Rural and tribal law enforcemen­t are dealing with an increase in overdoses from illicit fentanyl, prescripti­on opioids and heroin. Passing the Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act would provide resources to help rural communitie­s combat opioid overdoses and provide alternativ­es to incarcerat­ion.”

“Additional substance abuse and addiction resources are desperatel­y needed in all communitie­s but particular­ly in rural communitie­s where services and resources are lacking,” the Partnershi­p to End Addiction wrote. “We hope this program will help to reduce the devastatio­n of opioid overdoses on individual­s and their families in rural communitie­s.”

 ?? Hunter riggall, File ?? Sen. Jon Ossoff speaks at the Aviation History and Technology Center in Marietta on Aug. 23.
Hunter riggall, File Sen. Jon Ossoff speaks at the Aviation History and Technology Center in Marietta on Aug. 23.

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