The U.S. House today approved a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Representatives Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and Tom Garrett, R-Va., to help ensure that states have effective plans in place to protect infants who are innocent victims of the opioid epidemic. The bill, H.R. 5890, the Assisting States’ Implementation of the Plans of Safe Care Act, would help Florida and other states develop evidence-based policies and procedures to properly care for babies born dependent on drugs. This is Murphy’s third bipartisan bill aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic, which has hit Florida particularly hard.
“Too many Americans and too many Floridians are battling opioid addiction and, as a mom, it breaks my heart to see innocent children suffer the consequences of adult addiction,” said Murphy. “Our children are our most precious asset, and we must do everything possible to ensure that drug-dependent babies receive proper care at the hospital and the necessary family, community, and medical support once they are discharged.”
There are an estimated 2.1 million Americans addicted to opioids, typically to prescription painkillers. Babies born to mothers who used opioids during pregnancy are at risk of an opioid-withdrawal condition called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). A baby is born with NAS every 15 minutes in the United States. In 2016, over 4,000 babies in Florida were born addicted to opioids.
Under a federal law called the Child Abuse and Prevention Act (CAPTA), states are required to develop a plan to safely care for infants exposed to substance abuse. However, a 2015 investigation by Reuters indicated that only a few states have plans in place that fulfill the CAPTA requirement for safe care plans. As a result, too many infants are exposed to substance abuse, and they and their families are not receiving the comprehensive support they need.
Murphy’s bipartisan bill would:
- require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide guidance to states on how to implement effective plans of safe care for infants born dependent on drugs;
- ensure that HHS’s guidance promotes evidence-based practices and encourages collaboration with health care providers, social service agencies, and other members of the community; and,
- ensure that HHS’s guidance promotes family-centered treatment to keep families intact when possible.
Earlier this year, Murphy introduced a bipartisan bill with Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., the Opioid Emergency Response Act, which would improve access to treatment for opioid addiction, invest in life-saving research to combat the opioid epidemic, and crack down on criminal networks that supply opioids and harm communities. Murphy is also the Democratic co-lead of a bill with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., the Road to Recovery Act, which would repeal a federal law—called the “IMD exclusion”—to authorize Medicaid to cover treatment at certain licensed, accredited residential facilities for individuals addicted to opioids.
Murphy delivered a speech on the House floor today in support of her bill. To watch her speech, click here. To read the text of her remarks, click here.