Senator McConnell’s Bill to Help Opioid-Addicted Mothers, Babies Approved by Senate Committee

Mitch McConnell

Legislation drafted by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) to address prenatal opioid exposure was approved by a the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The Protecting Moms and Infants Act (PMIA), introduced by Senator McConnell last week, is now included in theOpioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, which contains provisions from 38 different Senators to help combat the opioid epidemic.

The PMIA builds on Senator McConnell’s 2015 bill, the Protecting Our Infants Act (POIA),which was the first federal law to specifically address prenatal opioid exposure. The PMIArequests the Secretary of Health and Human Service (HHS) to provide Congress with a report on the implementation of the comprehensive strategies developed through the POIA. That 2015 law directed HHS to create a plan to prevent prenatal exposure to opioids, treat infants born with opioid withdrawal, and improve the states’ public health response to this growing problem.

The recently introduced PMIA also calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to work with stakeholders to develop educational materials on pain management for doctors and expecting mothers. It also authorizes an increase in funding for a competitive federal grant that assists organizations with addressing this particular challenge within the broader opioid crisis.

“I appreciate Chairman Alexander and the HELP committee’s support for my legislation to address prenatal opioid exposure, and I’m proud that it is included it in the Opioid Crisis Response Act,” said Senator McConnell. “To address a complex issue like the opioid epidemic, it is critical that the federal government continues to collaborate with states, communities, and localities to find comprehensive solutions through prevention, treatment and enforcement efforts. Passing this legislation in committee brings us one step closer to helping the increasing number of vulnerable infants born dependent on opioids.”

Senator McConnell has visited a number of substance abuse treatment facilities in Kentucky to hear from those on the front lines the best solutions to combat the opioid epidemic from those on the front lines. In 2017, Senator McConnell visited Chrysalis House in Lexington, Kentucky, which received last year a competitive federal grant from the same program that would be increased under the Protecting Moms and Infants Act. Senator McConnell proudly supported the Chrysalis House’s successful grant application, which allowed them to provide critical services to pregnant and postpartum women and their children. This funding has allowed Chrysalis House to offer treatment to low-income women who need it most. In 2016, Senator McConnell visited Volunteers of America (VOA) Mid-States in Louisville to participate in a roundtable discussion on ideas to combat the opioid crisis in Kentucky. VOA Mid-States runs a residential addiction recovery program, Freedom House, for pregnant women and mothers.

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recognizes the particular services that Chrysalis House serves with women and families in their recovery, and we are grateful for his continued support and leadership,” said Lisa Minton, Chrysalis House Executive Director. “Chrysalis House is Kentucky’s largest licensed substance abuse treatment program for women, and through our recent grant award that the Senator helped us earn, we were able to secure certainty in our delivery of services to families in Kentucky. With the Protecting Moms and Infants Act to enhance the resources available through competitive grant opportunities, Chrysalis House and Senator McConnell are working to help break the cycle of addiction.”

Volunteers of America Mid-States President and CEO, Jennifer Hancock, said, “Volunteers of America Mid-States strongly supports the Protecting Moms and Infants Act. I am grateful to Senator McConnell for his leadership in bringing attention and action to pregnant and parenting moms who are struggling to overcome addiction. Volunteers of America works every day to provide comprehensive care and treatment to moms and babies who are affected by the opioid and addiction crisis, and this bill will help us to serve, and heal, more families. I look forward to working on behalf of this legislation and partnering with Senator McConnell to help Kentucky, and our nation, beat this epidemic.”

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