House members speak on drug epidemic during press conference
MARTINSBURG-Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Republican Congressman Alex Mooney of West Virginia, presented a package of 15 bills targeted toward the heroin and opioid epidemic during a press conference Thursday morning.
The outdoor conference was held at the nation's capitol in Washington, D.C.
Mooney, who presented and spoke about a bill he introduced known as the Promoting Responsible Opioid Prescribing Act, said he was pleased with the way the press conference went.
"What really struck me was how many members of Congress are working on this," Mooney said in a telephone interview following the conference. "It was reassuring to hear members speak about everyone being involved. Everybody said we need to have people coming together. (They) emphasized the need for everyone to work on the issue rather than relying on someone else to do it all."
The bipartisan package of bills announced during the conference address aspects of the drug epidemic including recovery, alternatives to incarceration, addiction education and the reform of prescription practices.
Mooney's bill would eliminate a provision of the Affordable Care Act, removing ties to reimbursments from pain-management questions asked in patient satisfaction surveys.
Currently, a standardized survey is meant to measure a patient's satisfaction with the care received while at the hospital. "Pay for performance" provisions in the Affordable Care Act state that the surveys would be used to calculate incentive payments or payment reductions depending on survey results.
"These are common-sense bills, and there are a lot of very good ideas. These things need to start getting put up and passed, and we have to push for votes on all these bills," Mooney said. "There is always going to be another point of view, so it it comes down to us coming together to push these bills while overcoming objections and concerns."
Mooney said there were approximately 12 to 14 members who spoke, and it was a bipartisan split for the conference.
"There's a misconception that the parties don't work together," Mooney said. "We do disagree, but we don't disagree on fighting back against this heroin epidemic. The bipartisanship of this press conference was probably the most unique aspect (of the conference)."
Staff writer Emily Daniels can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 132, or twitter.com/emilykdaniels.