Senate passes bill to combat opioid crisis in rural America

A bill intended to help combat the opioid epidemic in rural America passed in the Senate with a unanimous vote late Thursday, Fox News reported.

The bill’s passage comes as deaths related to opioids continue to rise across the nation. Rural towns have been hit particularly hard.

According to Fox, the measure would create a program to help combat the problem, including helping with preventing addiction and overdoses.

A rare bipartisan victory

Its passage was heralded by both Republicans and Democrats like Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff (D), who co-sponsored the bill alongside longtime Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley (R).

“With today’s passage of my bipartisan bill to reduce opioid addiction, overdoses, and deaths, the Senate proved Democrats and Republicans can still work together to get things done,” Ossoff said in a statement following the vote.

Grassley similarly heralded the deal, which marks one of few occasions during President Joe Biden’s tenure when Republicans and Democrats have been willing to work together on legislation. The GOP senator said the bill would give communities the tools they need to manage the epidemic of opioid abuse and called on the House to swiftly pass the measure.

“Congress needs to act”

In a separate statement, Grassley said the so-called Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act, first introduced back in September, “will fill gaps in prevention, treatment, and recovery services for individuals in rural areas with funding for local governments and organizations that serve rural communities heavily impacted by opioid addiction and abuse.”

“We’ve made some progress in fighting the opioid crisis, but with overdose deaths rising Congress needs to act,” Grassley said. “Our bill will help communities in Iowa and across the country to prevent and handle any surge in opioid overdoses.”

The New York Times reported last month that opioid deaths have spiked amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with tens of thousands of Americans — particularly young Americans — falling victim.

“In the 12-month period that ended in April, more than 100,000 Americans died of overdoses, up almost 30 percent from the 78,000 deaths in the prior year, according to provisional figures from the National Center for Health Statistics,” the Times reported. Thankfully, it’s an issue that those on both sides of the political aisle seem determined to tackle.

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