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Sweeping legislation includes provisions from ENA-backed bills to combat opioid epidemic
SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (Oct. 24, 2018) – The Emergency Nurses Association, a leading voice in the push to improve emergency health care for patients struggling with opioid-use issues, on Oct. 24 commended Congress for passing and President Donald Trump for signing into law sweeping bipartisan legislation which aims to combat the opioid crisis.
The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act incorporates dozens of bills, including a pair supported by ENA, designed to provide immediate assistance to help quell the deadly impact of opioid drugs which claimed the lives of approximately 49,000 Americans in 2017.
"The opioid epidemic has strained an already overburdened emergency care system in the United States. This, coupled with the challenges of watching how addiction negatively impacts our patients and their loved ones, makes the opioid crisis very personal for emergency nurses,” ENA President Jeff Solheim, MSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, CFRN, FAEN, FAAN. “We applaud any legislation, such as ALTO, that will help control this very real problem."
The SUPPORT Act includes the ALTO ED Act and key provisions of the POWER Act, two ENA-backed bills the association strongly advocated for because of their impact on how emergency departments treat patients struggling with opioid-use:
- The ALTO ED Act – sponsored by Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., in the House and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., in the Senate – requires the Department of Health and Human Services to run a demonstration program in which grants would be awarded to hospitals and EDs to develop, study and improve alternative pain management protocols with the goal of reducing unnecessary opioid use in the ED.
- The POWER Act – which was introduced by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., in the House and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., in the Senate – authorizes federal funds to help health care facilities, including emergency departments, and key state agencies and local organizations develop protocols for discharging patients after a non-fatal overdose that improve coordination of community-based treatment for those patients.
ENA has been a long-time supporter of improving emergency care and resources for patients with substance use disorders, especially those impacted by the opioid epidemic. ENA engaged with congressional leaders throughout the development of the SUPPORT Act, voicing support for the inclusion of these important provisions in the final legislation. Additionally, 2018 ENA President-elect Patricia Kunz Howard represented ENA earlier this year in Washington, D.C., during a panel discussion about the importance of connecting patients who overdosed with community resources.
“Alternatives to opioids is vitally important to reduce the tragedies associated with opioid addiction. The Emergency Nurses Association supports alternative measures to manage pain without the use of opioids,” said 2018 ENA President-elect Patricia Kunz Howard, PhD, RN, CEN, CPEN, TCRN, NE-BC, FAEN, FAAN.