News Releases

Sen. Murray cited stories illustrating the impact of the opioid crisis in Washington state, incl. devastating stat that nearly half of all babies born in one hospital in Longview, WA have mothers who struggle with substance use 

In her remarks, Sen. Murray called out Trump Administration for steps to delay, undermine response efforts; Urged strong oversight, implementation of major mental health/drug reform legislation

Sen. Murray: “We need to make sure we are doing everything we can—right now—to fight this crisis head on”

***WATCH SEN. MURRAY’S OPENING STATEMENT HERE***

(Washington, D.C.) –  Today, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate health committee, delivered the following remarks at a hearing to assess the federal response to the opioid crisis with officials and leaders from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At a separate hearing of the Senate Budget Committee today, Sen. Murray also introduced an amendment to provide an additional $45 billion in investments to combat the ongoing opioid crisis by investing in the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorders.

As she has traveled around Washington state, Sen. Murray has heard from countless patients, families, medical providers, and law enforcement members about the devastating effects of the opioid crisis on local communities and received valuable insight into the epidemic. Sen. Murray shared these stories and others in her remarks at today’s hearing, calling on the Trump Administration to cease all efforts to undermine health care and work instead with Congress to ensure strong implementation of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act, as well as to provide increased investments for prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts nationwide. According to the CDC, 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

Key excerpts of Sen. Patty Murray’s opening statement:

“Every day, from every corner of the country, we hear more about the damage being caused by the opioid crisis: lives taken completely off track, mothers and fathers who worry about the late-night calls they might get—or what it means if no call comes through, children who have lost their parents, and communities, hospitals, and emergency services overwhelmed. In fact, it’s hard to grasp the full scope and scale of the opioid crisis—even as we learn more.  On a recent trip to Longview, Washington, to visit a local hospital, I was told there by staff that nearly 50 percent of all babies being born there have mothers who struggle with substance use. That is stunning, it is heartbreaking. And it speaks to so much of what I’ve heard all over my state—in Seattle, Everett, Bellingham, Yakima, Spokane, the Tri-Cities, Vancouver. And in meetings with families. Providers. Patients in recovery. Law enforcement professionals. So, this is not somebody else's problem. It's all of ours.”

“Now your agencies all play a critical role and I know we are all looking forward to hearing how this administration is stepping up—and where it is falling behind. And that includes on implementation of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act. I will also have specific questions for each of you, including: how SAMHSA is making sure federal funds to address this crisis are being used to help people in all our communities; what steps CDC can take to prevent opioid misuse in the first place; how NIH is working to support biomedical research that helps us better understand chronic pain; and how FDA is working to include public health considerations when it approves new pain products and assuring that non-addictive pain products are being handled with clarity, consistency, and an all hands on deck approach.”

“Now another step is making sure we are doing everything we can—right now—to fight this crisis head on. On this, I have several concerns. This Administration has delayed critical steps that could help provide immediate relief to families suffering today—proposing budget cuts for prevention efforts around substance use disorder and mental health programs at SAMHSA; undermining the value of medication-assisted treatment in effectively managing opioid use disorders; and pushing the Department of Justice to treat addiction as a criminal justice issue…we should be doing everything we can to tackle this crisis and push for actual results. And critical to all that is this Administration is a partner—and not a hindrance to our efforts.”

Video of Sen. Murray’s Opening Remarks Available HERE.

Full text below of Sen. Murray’s Opening statement:

“Thank you, Chairman Alexander. And thank you to all our colleagues for coming together for this truly urgent discussion.

“Every day, from every corner of the country, we hear more about the damage being caused by the opioid crisis: lives taken completely off track, mothers and fathers who worry about the late-night calls they might get—or what it means if no call comes through, children who have lost their parents, and communities, hospitals, and emergency services overwhelmed.

“In fact, it’s hard to grasp the full scope and scale of the opioid crisis—even as we learn more. 

“On a recent trip to Longview, Washington, to visit a local hospital, I was told there by staff that nearly 50 percent of all babies being born there have mothers who struggle with substance use. That is stunning, it is heartbreaking. And it speaks to so much of what I’ve heard all over my state—in Seattle, Everett, Bellingham, Yakima, Spokane, the Tri-Cities, Vancouver. And in meetings with families. Providers. Patients in recovery. Law enforcement professionals.

“So, this is not somebody else's problem. It's all of ours. And so, again, that’s why I am very glad we have the opportunity today to discuss this and hear from leaders closest to these issues about what they are seeing and learning in each of their roles.

“Thank you for joining us. I am very glad you could be here with us today, though I must say—I am very concerned that Dr. Fitzgerald has not sufficiently divested to be able to testify on such an important issue. And that’s something I’ll be following up on because we need CDC to be at full strength and not subject to the distractions that have plagued this Administration.

“Now your agencies all play a critical role and I know we are all looking forward to hearing how this administration is stepping up—and where it is falling behind. And that includes on implementation of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act.

“I will have specific questions for each of you, including: how SAMHSA is making sure federal funds to address this crisis are being used to help people in all our communities; what steps CDC can take to prevent opioid misuse in the first place; how NIH is working to support biomedical research that helps us better understand chronic pain; and how FDA is working to include public health considerations when it approves new pain products and assuring that non-addictive pain products are being handled with clarity, consistency, and an all hands on deck approach.

“But I do want to make a couple of points from the outset. First is that today’s hearing is only possible because the latest Trumpcare bill met a dead end. Because it’s a no brainer that undercutting the entirety of the country’s health care system would set us back in addressing this crisis. And what we’ve seen from every repeal bills is drastic cuts to funding for treatment and addiction services and hits to Medicaid and critical patient protections that are today provided under current law. 

“So it is my hope that we can finally turn the page on these fights—and focus instead on moving forward. And on that I am, Mr. Chairman, appreciative of the bipartisanship that many here on this committee have shown in our ongoing work on market stabilization.

“Now another step is making sure we are doing everything we can—right now—to fight this crisis head on.

“And I do have several concerns. This Administration has delayed critical steps that could help provide immediate relief to families suffering today—proposing budget cuts for prevention efforts around substance use disorder and mental health programs at SAMHSA; undermining the value of medication-assisted treatment in effectively managing opioid use disorders; and pushing the Department of Justice to treat addiction as a criminal justice issue.

“Fortunately, we’ve made some progress in this committee. Like everyone here, I am proud of our work to pass the 21st Century Cures Act, which authorized nearly $1 billion for states to address the opioid crisis through prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. And CARA—which supports specific outreach for veterans and pregnant and postpartum women, expands access to medication assisted treatments, and much more.

“But I can’t say clearly enough that our work is not over—we can and must do more. As we work to build upon our work in CARA and Cures, it’s absolutely critical that we put investments into ensuring these policies have the impact that families and communities need.

“We should be doing everything we can to tackle this crisis and push for actual results. And critical to all that is this Administration is a partner—and not a hindrance to our efforts.

“So, we have a lot to cover. And I am very much looking forward to our conversation.”