By John Fritze, The Baltimore Sun
Members of Baltimore's congressional delegation on Monday touted a package of bills passed recently by the House of Representatives intended to address the national opioid abuse epidemic, but they also pointed to the shortcomings of that legislation -- including a lack of funding.
The House and Senate have both approved bipartisan legislation on heroin and prescription drug abuse, but the packages are substantially different. Both measures, which now must be resolved by a yet-to-be-appointed conference committee, do not include new money to pay for the programs lawmakers envision.
Rep. John Sarbanes of Baltimore County was the original sponsor of one of the House-passed bills. His proposal would encourage and train doctors to prescribe overdose reversal drugs, such as Naloxone, when they prescribe pain medication and other opioids.
The idea is to ensure that if a patient becomes addicted and overdoses that there is medication on hand that could save his or her life.
Sarbanes' legislation, which passed by voice vote on Wednesday, anticipates $5 million in funding over five years, with individual grants up to $200,000 to help train medical providers to prescribe Naloxone.