While attending the Rx Summit this week, I was further reassured that addiction remains a bipartisan issue. That’s a vitally important ingredient in our national dialogue as the United States transitions to a new administration against a grim backdrop of overdose deaths that are reaching crisis levels in every single state.
I asked Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who was instrumental in launching the Rx Summit as an all-hands-on-deck event six years ago, about the atmosphere in Washington.
“There’s been a dramatic change in the last two or three years, and I think a lot of it is because of the Rx Summit, which is bringing national attention to this horrendous problem,” Rogers told me.
He said evidence of the level of concern among policymakers manifested in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act, which passed last year under the Obama administration with overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. And federal investments authorized in the two laws are moving forward quickly now under the Trump administration.
“Both of [the laws] are directly related to what we’re doing here at the Rx Summit,” Rogers said. “There’s a new awareness of the problem that we’re facing. As it gets worse, more people are affected, and thus their elected representatives are affected.”
He noted that the Rx Summit has always included participation from both sides of the aisle as well as congressional leaders from the Senate and the House. And with urgent sentiment among Democrats and Republicans alike that the addiction crisis is unacceptable, stakeholders at all levels are implementing comprehensive approaches.
“We’re beginning to make a dent in the problem,” Rogers said.