Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, toured a Simi Valley facility, Clinicas del Camino Real, Friday with Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, that will receive funding from various initiatives to address the ongoing opioid epidemic.
The two congressmen highlighted several key initiatives being undertaken in Congress to address the opioid issue, as well as local and private sector practices to assist in the effort. The event included a tour of the facility and discussions with care providers.
“It was an honor to have Rep. Walden come to our district, and talk about bills that were passed to aid in fighting opioid abuse and hopefully those will soon be signed by the president,” Knight said. “They would have a dramatic impact on opioid abuse, and that’s certainly an issue in the Santa Clarita Valley.”
This legislative session, Congress passed the two-year Bipartisan Budget Act, which provided a two-year extension of the Community Health Center fund at $3.8 billion for the 2018 fiscal year and $4 billion for FY19. This account is one source that funds $396 million in grants to support substance use disorder and mental health treatment services at community health centers and rural health clinics.
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Capt. Robert Lewis said in July that overdose statistics have gone up, and there have been seven local deaths from opioid abuse so far this year. That number is close to the area’s record, which was 11 from the year 2011, he said at a Knight-hosted roundtable on opioid abuse.
Within that $396 million total, there would be $46 million coming to California, Knight said, and the 25th Congressional District is expected to receive funding, including areas of the Santa Clarita Valley where opioid abuse is an issue, Knight said.
This September, Congress also passed H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, a bipartisan bill that expands access to substance use disorder services in Medicaid, creates a student loan forgiveness program for medical practitioners who specialize in addiction treatment and establishes of a new type of comprehensive opioid recovery center for integrated recovery support services.
H.R. 6 also includes provisions from a Knight bill, the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act of 2018, which increases criminal penalties for those who engage in “patient brokering” to profit off of those who are battling addiction and seeking help recovering. The bills are now awaiting a signature from President Trump.
“The majority of the bills passed were unanimous,” Knight said. “They’re not Republican bills, they’re not Democrat bills, this is a subject matter that affects everyone in the district. It is affecting our law enforcement, and our kids have died over this. We’re going to stay very active with addressing the epidemic.”