WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) today delivered the following opening statement at a Subcommittee hearing entitled “The Opioid Crisis: The Current Landscape and CMS Actions to Prevent Opioid Misuse.”
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Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Good morning, I want to thank the panel for coming and welcome you all to today’s hearing on ‘The Opioid Crisis: The Current Landscape and CMS Actions to Prevent Opioid Misuse.’
“Opioid abuse has devastated communities across America. In 2016, more than 42,000 Americans died due to opioids – a level that is five times what it was in 1999. My home state of Kansas is no exception. In 2000, 35 overdose deaths were attributed to opioids. In 2016, 159 people died from opioid overdose in Kansas. Overdose deaths in America are on the rise, largely due to opioids which account for three out of every five overdose deaths. These numbers are startling and yet, many experts believe they are too low. Unfortunately, this epidemic continues to get worse which is why finding ways to address the problem is a high priority for this committee.
“No community is immune to the effects of opioid abuse. Rural communities are hit particularly hard as they often have limited access to critical services and resources to support those struggling with addiction.
“The immense cost opioids impose on society as a whole cannot be overstated. According to the Centers for Disease Control, opioids imposed an economic burden of $78.5 billion dollars in 2013. Much of this is due to increased substance abuse treatment costs, lost productivity, incarceration, and other burdens put on our criminal justice system. Last year, the president’s Council of Economic Advisors estimated the cost to be even higher.
“In order to address the opioid crisis we need to understand what the current state of the problem is. We also need to understand what tools are in place to address this problem and how they can be improved.
“Today, we will examine how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS is working to address opioid misuse in the Medicare Part D program. More than 42 million beneficiaries rely on the program for prescription drugs, including opioids. It is critical that Medicare, and private Part D plan sponsors have the tools they need to ensure that opioids are provided only when medically necessary. We have a panel of experts that can talk about what CMS and the plan sponsors are doing to identify those most at risk so that appropriate interventions can be taken.
“Our witnesses today should provide the Committee with valuable insights into how things are currently working and what can be done to improve. The committee plans to do more oversight on this issue as we continue to examine other ways to reduce opioid abuse.
“Before closing, I want to recognize that a lot of what will be discussed today will be sanitized to some degree, simply through the use of numbers and statistics. I would like the record to reflect that the members of this Committee know that there are real people, real families, and real experiences behind every number. That is why we here today and are devoting time to such a critical issue.
“With that, I want to thank our witnesses and look forward to their testimony.”