Joyce introduces bipartisan anti-opioid grant legislation

U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) on March 5 introduced a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize a comprehensive federal opioid abuse grant program.

The Comprehensive Opioid Program Extension (COPE) Act of 2019, H.R. 1528, would increase available federal funds for the U.S. Department of Justice’s opioid abuse reduction activities, according to Rep. Joyce, who sponsored the bill along with original lead cosponsor U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH).

“We need to make sure that federal funding effectively supports all of the life-saving work our local communities are carrying out on the front lines of this crisis, and the COPE Act does just that,” Rep. Joyce said on Tuesday.

If enacted, H.R. 1528 would increase grant program funds by $70 million annually from 2020 through 2024 for a total provided annually of $400 million in grants to local communities.

The grants fund training and resources for first responders on opioid overdose reversal drugs and devices, according to a summary provided by Rep. Joyce’s office, as well as to develop or improve opioid prevention programs, among other uses.

“If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that battling this epidemic requires an all-of-the-above approach that includes not only prevention and education efforts, but also promotes treatment, cracks down on illegal distribution, and enhances resources for first responders and law enforcement,” Rep. Joyce said. 

Accolades for Rep. Joyce’s bill flowed in this week from several stakeholders, including from Dr. Randy Jernejcic, physician chair of the Northeast Ohio Hospital Opioid Consortium and vice president of Clinical Integration at University Hospitals, who applauded the congressman for helping local communities fight the opioid epidemic.

“As we have demonstrated with the Opioid Consortium, collaboration and the sharing of best practices has made us collectively stronger. I’m pleased to see this legislation also encourages a team approach,” Jernejcic said.

The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) also thanked Rep. Joyce “for prioritizing the needs of our communities during this crisis,” said NDAA President Jonathan Blodgett. 

“We are confident that the COPE Act will provide necessary funding to enhance collaboration between law enforcement and substance abuse agencies, while also providing improved training to ensure our nation’s law enforcement can effectively tackle the crisis,” said Blodgett.

Other praises for H.R. 1528 came from Dr. Jeanne Lackamp, director of University Hospitals Pain Management Institute, and Dr. Brendan Patterson, chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Orthopaedic and Rheumatologic Institute. 

Rep. Joyce pointed out that 130 Americans on average die daily from an opioid overdose.

“The opioid epidemic has become the crisis in everyone’s backyard and I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure our communities have the resources and tools they need to fight it,” said the lawmaker.

H.R. 1528 has been referred to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee for consideration.