There are a few specific priorities in the healthcare arena that I continue to work towards. The first is protecting Community Health Centers.
The House recently passed a bill that secures funding for Community Health Centers for two years.
There are 281 Federally Qualified Health Centers in Georgia, and 2 in the Sixth District. These FQHCs encompass all Community Health Centers, public housing centers, and programs serving the homeless, among others.
Community Health Centers increase access to healthcare, improve patient outcomes, and are uniquely positioned to spread the benefits of community-based and patient centered care. I am proud to have cast multiple votes in support of Community Health Centers.
Additionally, the Opioid epidemic has hit Georgia - particularly the Sixth District - as hard as anywhere in the country.
In 2016, 72.3 percent of all drug-related fatalities in Cobb County were caused by opioids, up from 64.8 percent just one year before. In Fulton County, a total of 77 heroin deaths were recorded in 2014 – compared to just four in 2010.
Behind these statistics are devastated families -- families that are being torn apart by addiction. They face financial ruin in their effort to try anything to make things right, or worse, have lost a loved one to overdose or suicide.
In March of 2018, the Joint Economic Committee, of which I am a member, held a forum titled "The Numbers Behind the Opioid Crisis," which highlighted a recent report from the JEC's Social Capital Project. Here are a few findings that stood out to me most.
- In 2016, 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States. Two-thirds of those overdoses are attributable to opioids.
- Prescription pain relievers that are "freely given by friends and family" account for 40% of the drugs taken by those considered "abusers."
- From 2009 to 2014, the proportion of children whose cases of "out-of-home placement" caused by a parent's drug or alcohol use increased from 29% to 35%. I believe those are numbers directly attributable to the opioid epidemic.
In the Spring of 2018, the House will offer multiple measures designed to combat the Opioid Epidemic. Those range from increasing treatment access to developing improved methods for the disposal of excess pills.
The opioid epidemic is a national problem. Solving it requires bipartisan cooperation. I will continue to make combating the opioid epidemic a top priority of mine in Congress.