Bill Headed to President Would Help Rural States like Mississippi Combat Opioid Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) on Wednesday voted to send President Trump major legislation to combat the opioid epidemic, including ramping up the use of telehealth to reach treatment in rural areas.

The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (HR.6) received final congressional approval, with the Senate voting 98-1 to send the bill to the White House.

“Opioid-related overdose deaths continue to rise in Mississippi, in addition to the crime and social problems associated with this crisis.  Our response requires an all-hands-on-deck approach and this measure is intended to help get a grip on these challenges on the state and local levels,” Hyde-Smith said.  “I’m pleased the bill includes provisions to help rural areas to treat and prevent opioid abuse.”

The comprehensive legislation is comprised of several opioid-related bills offered in the House and Senate, including the Hyde-Smith cosponsored Expanding Telehealth Response to Ensure Addiction Treatment (e-TREAT) Act to permanently allow access to substance use disorder treatment through telehealth technology under Medicare.  This final bill includes the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 and the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act.

The Mississippi Board of Pharmacy, in collaboration with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and other agencies, issued an inter-agency report in April which showed that a majority of overdose deaths in Mississippi in 2017 were opioid-related.  It also assessed drug-related crime in the state, noting almost 20,000 drug-related arrests last year.