In the coming days, the Senate will pass a package of legislation to fight the opioid crisis. And in that legislation, I worked with my Republican colleague, Senator Capito of West Virginia, to include important provisions to support Ohio efforts.
We were able to include our bipartisan bill to support organizations that treat babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), like Brigid’s Path in Dayton. Brigid’s Path is one of just two residential treatment centers in the country for these infants.
NAS is caused by the use of opioids or other addictive substances during pregnancy, and has become a growing challenge for families and health care providers in Ohio. Recent studies show that cases of NAS have tripled over the past decade.
Right now, these babies are usually treated in the neonatal intensive care unit, known as the NICU, where treatment costs are more than five times the cost of treating other newborns. But given the bright lights and loud noises, the NICU is not always the best place for newborns struggling with withdrawal.
Residential pediatric recovery facilities like Brigid’s Path can give these infants specialized care, as well as counseling for mothers and families, in a setting outside the chaos of a hospital.
Our bill, the Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act, will allow organizations like Brigid’s Path to bill Medicaid for the services they offer, expanding options for care for the thousands of babies who need specialized treatment.
I talked last week with Jill Kingston, Founder and Executive Director of Brigid’s Path, about how important it is that we pass this legislation. Ms. Kingston knows and sees every day just how important it is to get these babies and their families the best care and support. This bill will be an important step to help some of the youngest victims of this crisis.
I also worked to include provisions to help us tackle the workforce challenges brought on by the opioid crisis, and make sure recovering Ohioans have the job opportunities they need to get back on their feet and sustain their recovery. This legislation is a first step toward passing our Collectively Achieving Recovery and Employment (CARE) Act, so we can combine resources for addiction recovery and job training.
We also must work to prevent deadly drugs like fentanyl from entering our country in the first place.
That’s why I’m proud to support Senator Portman’s Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which will be part of the Senate package. The STOP Act works together with my INTERDICT Act, which President Trump signed into law last year, to help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl at the border.
I’ll continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight this crisis at every level – prevention, education, treatment, and recovery.
Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.