(Washington, DC) – Today the leaders of Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Donald Norcross (D-NJ), released the following statements on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality study, which shows a national increase in opioid-related inpatient stays and emergency department visits. According to the study, between 2005 and 2014 there was a 64 percent increase for inpatient care and a 99 percent jump for emergency room treatment for opioid-related issues.

“This study is alarming but not surprising,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “The opioid crisis is putting severe strain on our healthcare system and is impacting communities throughout New Hampshire and across the country. This study underscores the need to strengthen prevention, treatment, and recovery services and strategies for those who are struggling with substance misuse. This crisis requires a comprehensive approach and I’m committed to working across the aisle to improve access to treatment services.”

“This study shows that the opioid crisis is running rampant across America and we must continue to do more to combat it,” said Congressman MacArthur. “It’s my belief that we have to show compassion for those suffering from drug abuse by providing treatment and prevention services, and also balance that with stricter drug sentences for dealers who are selling poison to vulnerable Americans to feed their own greed.  Our communities need our help and I remain committed to working with my colleagues from both parties in this fight.”

“While last Congress’ passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and 21st Century Cures were monumental first steps in countering the opioid crisis, this study highlights that there is more work to be done. This Congress – and this Task Force - must continue to press the issue from all sides; from the trafficking of narcotics across our border to preventing the overprescribing of painkillers,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick.  “However, Congress alone cannot solve this problem. We must be ready and willing to work with state and local leaders, law enforcement, healthcare professionals, and educators in our districts. The epidemic of opioid addiction and abuse - and the strains it puts on our communities and families – is too important to be put on the backburner or cast aside in favor of partisan bickering and campaigning.”

"This study reinforces the need to quickly and sensibly reverse the devastating upward trends in the opioid epidemic,” said Congressman Norcross. “In New Jersey and around the country, too many of our neighbors, friends and families are suffering from the disease of addiction. This Task Force crosses party lines and crosses state lines because we need to remove any barrier that stands in the way of helping Americans beat the disease.”

The 85-member Bipartisan Heroin Task Force has been a force for action to address the opioid epidemic. Last year, the Task Force successfully pushed for the passage of 18 bills in one week which became part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). The Task Force has also held numerous hearings and briefings, both in Washington and communities impacted by addiction, to educate lawmakers about effective means to curb the crisis.