The seven-point plan includes incentives for medical providers to use alternatives to the drugs
BRADENTON — Packaging a number of bills from other lawmakers together, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan unveiled a seven-point plan to address the opioid crisis Monday during an event at Centerstone Hospital and Addiction Center.
Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, touted the legislation — dubbed the “Opioid Emergency Response Act” — as a major step toward combating opioid addiction. He plans to file the measure this week.
“This bill will go a long ways in addressing a lot of these problems,” Buchanan said at a news conference that was attended by local law enforcement, addiction experts and two mothers who lost children to overdoses.
Most of the ideas in the legislation aren’t new. Some have been around for years without advancing.
Buchanan’s bill incorporates legislation filed by U.S. Sen. John McCain that would require the Veterans Administration to investigate whether prescription pain pills are leading to more suicides among veterans. Also included is a bill sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman that would require the United States Postal Service to implement new screening measures to try to intercept illicit drug shipments.
One new aspect of the legislation is a measure that would offer incentives for emergency medical providers to use alternatives to opioids, such as higher doses of over-the-counter painkillers, when they treat Medicare patients.
Buchanan called the proposal “a combination of the best ideas in Washington” when it comes to addressing opioid addiction, adding that his office sifted through more than 100 bills.
“This will be a very powerful package, we think,” he added. “All these bills are bipartisan.”
Buchanan’s announcement came amid one of the toughest election cycles in years for Republicans. Sarasota Democrat David Shapiro has raised more than $650,000 to take on the six-term GOP incumbent.
Buchanan has been working to emphasize issues that have bipartisan appeal. He currently is running a television ad that touts him as an “independent leader.” Both Democrats and Republicans have been outspoken about the need to address the opioid crisis.
Buchanan’s campaign manager attended the announcement and there was a film crew from Pulpo Creative, a company that creates video advertising content.
Shapiro campaign manager Devin McAndrew-Greiner called Buchanan's proposal a "stunt" and "opportunistic grandstanding."