ER overdose bills pass House vote

WASHINGTON — Two bills proposed by a West Virginia congressman intended to lessen usage of narcotic painkillers passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., was the lead sponsor of House Resolution 5176, the Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms Act, and HR 5197, the Alternatives to Opioids in the Emergency Department Act.

HR 5176, co-sponsored by Rep. Michael Doyle, D-Pa., provides resources for hospitals to develop protocols on discharging patients who have had an overdose, including providing naloxone upon discharge, peer-support specialists, and the referral to treatment and other services.

HR 5197, co-authored by Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., creates a demonstration program testing alternative pain-management protocols limiting the use of opioids in emergency departments and reducing over-prescribing of opioids.

The two bills were among 25 passed by the House to address the opioid epidemic.

Opioid addiction was the top concern during constituent meetings in the district, McKinley said. The legislation is intended to expand access to alternative treatment for survivors and develop pain-management alternatives.

“Often, people who survive an overdose end up doing it again because they’re unable to access the necessary treatment,” he said. “The Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms Act would ensure these patients receive the treatment they need in the emergency room and are then placed in the care of a substance abuse treatment provider to receive continued care, giving them a better shot at recovery.”

The Alternatives to Opioids Act will provide funding to help reduce dependence on the drugs at the point where patients first come in contact with an opioid, in the emergency room, McKinley said.

The legislation now goes to the Senate where legislation similar to 5197, Senate bill 2516 co-sponsored by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is awaiting action.