MADRAS, OR -- Congressman Greg Walden meets with health and law enforcement officials in Madras, Tuesday, to discuss the local opioid epidemic and how it impacts Jefferson County. Walden Chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which he says has made the opioid crisis a top priority. He's hopeful recent efforts by the Committee will address issues that are contributing to the crisis, like pill dumping and patient brokering, "To reform the public process, we’re trying to get to best practices for prescribing, more continuing education the right way, alternative pain treatment and then hold accountable those that are the bad actors."
Walden tells KBND News grant money is now available, specifically for rural areas, where opioid abuse is often higher, "Oregon’s already gotten $6.5 million last year, will probably get another $6.5 million this year. And then, in the appropriations bill we just approved, we allocated another $4.3 billion for opioids and mental health services in 13 different programs to help in all kinds of community needs on mental health. So, part of what I like to do is then come back and say, ‘did you get the money? Does it go to where you need it? Are we making progress?’." The money is used for things like Narcan, which can be dispensed by first responders to reverse the effects of an overdose. "Tragically, I’ve been told at a couple of roundtables like this, by the people that are on the front lines, ‘you know, we’re starting to actually see opioids go down, which is good, but now we’re seeing meth use go up.’ And, apparently, there’s a cycle like that."
The Oregon Republican will also meet with the Warm Springs Tribal Council on Tuesday.