The Opioid Hearing

Throughout this campaign I have been calling upon Jim Jordan to hold a hearing on the opioid crisis. As chairman of the House Subcommittee on Healthcare, Benefits, and Administrative Rules this should be part of his job. On April 11, Jim finally did. At the request of the committee’s ranking member, Mr. Krishnamoorthi, Jim allowed the committee to bring in local experts who could help Congress understand more about this crisis. After Jim made a brief introduction, Mr. Krishnamoorthi discussed some of the many important components of creating a plan to deal with opioid addiction in Ohio, Illinois, and other midwestern states. The congressman from Illinois highlighted the importance of providing prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation to local communities that are fighting addiction on all fronts. Mr. Krishnamoorthi also discussed the importance of working with law enforcement, increasing access to naloxone, and looking at evidence based solutions that have worked in the past. In doing so, he showed an understanding of the complex needs that communities across America face when dealing with opioid addiction. And, he expressed a sincerity to try to solve the issue. This is the approach that we need from all of our representatives in Washington, but especially from those who represent Ohio.

Unfortunately, Jim Jordan wasn’t nearly as prepared or invested in the hearing. Instead, before leaving halfway through the hearing, Jim pursued his own agenda when it was his turn ask questions. First, Jordan asked each panelist to name “the single, one thing you would do to deal with the problem.”

This is a concerning question because we know that there is no silver bullet in ending the opioid epidemic. Furthermore, it almost appears as if Jim has missed the prior 50 minutes of testimony expressing the many needs that communities face when fighting addiction. But, I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Jim thought that this was an opportunity for each panelist to put forward important points in a way that would be easy for people to understand. Maybe he wasn’t just looking for an easy fix, and he was actually looking for new approaches to finding a cure. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case.

Even though Jim was asking basic questions, the panelists did a great job of putting forward important ideas. They discussed managing medication assisted treatment, supporting prevention among young people, expanding economic opportunities for struggling communities, utilizing the national health emergency designation, employing data to assist law enforcement, and improving access to substance abuse treatment resources for the underinsured. But Jim didn’t listen.

Instead Jim decided to interrogate the panelists about his theory that Medicaid is to blame for the severity of the opioid epidemic. This is deeply frustrating. Our representative is using the opioid epidemic to go after medicaid by blaming the medicaid expansion for opioid addiction. He has decided that access to healthcare and insurance is the reason people are addicted to opioids. This is fundamentally wrong. Instead of focusing on solutions to addiction or ways to assist law enforcement, the congressman from Ohio’s fourth district has decided to focus on an unsubstantiated report, and to ignore science and common sense. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that Medicaid is helping expand access to treatment for people across the country, especially in hard hit states like Ohio. It reports that “opioid-related hospitalizations were higher in expansion than non-expansion states as early as 2011, three years before Medicaid expansion took effect, and have been growing at roughly the same rate in expansion and non-expansion states since expansion took effect. Medicaid is part of the solution to the opioid crisis, not a cause.” Jim Jordan has cooked up another conspiracy theory, but this time it is about opioids.

I am in disbelief. I just cannot understand how someone who represents our district could be so careless about where he gets his facts and what he spends his time on. I will continue to focus on the important points that were made by the four panelists at this hearing who are dedicated to ending the opioid epidemic (you can watch the whole hearing here: https://oversight.house.gov/hearing/local-responses-resources-curtail-opioid-epidemic/ and you can watch Jim Jordan's section here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XGhbI0PvJ4&t=42s

And when I replace Jim Jordan in Washington this year, you can be sure that I will make every effort to find real solutions to the opioid epidemic through genuine advocacy for the people I represent. Our representative in Congress should do nothing less.

Janet GarrettComment