Senator Collins Cites Record-breaking Maine Drug Overdose Deaths at Senate Health Hearing

418 people in the State of Maine died in 2017 as a result of drug overdoses—an 11% increase

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ Q&A with hearing witnesses

Note to assignment and news directors: Click HERE for high-quality video of Senator Collins’ Q&A with hearing witnesses

 

 

Washington, D.C. – The Senate Health Committee held a hearing today titled, “The Opioid Crisis: Leadership and Innovation in the States,” to examine how states and communities are dealing with the opioid crisis, as well as provide an opportunity for discussion on how federal programs, policies, and funding have affected their efforts.  The Committee heard from Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland and Governor Kate Brown of Oregon, who provided feedback on ways to improve response efforts in their states and across the country.

 

During the hearing, Senator Collins highlighted troubling increases in drug-related overdose deaths in states like Maine, where opioids were responsible for 354 of the 418 lives claimed last year by drug overdoses.

 

“This week, the CDC announced that in Maine, emergency visits for opioid overdoses jumped by 34 percent last year. In the past three years, the number of people in Maine who died by drug overdoses has doubled.  And at the same time, we at the federal level have increased funding and federal efforts year after year to combat this crisis,” said Senator Collins.

 

Governor Hogan expressed his support for several bills that have been introduced, including the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Senator Collins that would help stop dangerous synthetic opioids like fentanyl from being shipped to our country through the United States Postal Service.

 

Governor Hogan also highlighted the need for “more coordination and more cooperation from the federal government with the state and local [government]… And I think we do need more federal funding, with some flexibility for each state, [on] how they can utilize these funds, depending on how the issue is shifting [in their state].”

 

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins has secured significant funding for addiction treatment services. Last September, she announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $816 million – a $665 million increase over the past two years – for the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) opioid abuse treatment and prevention programs. The bill directs $500 million to state opioid crisis grants, which were authorized through the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill that was championed by Senator Collins and signed into law in December 2016.