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Congressman Diane Black

Representing the 6th District of Tennessee


Rep. Black: The Opioid Crisis is a Personal One

May 16, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee held a markup on legislative proposals to combat the opioid crisis. U.S. Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) stressed the importance of educating communities about the danger of addiction, and empowering law enforcement officials with resources to fight the epidemic.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

As a nurse for more than 45 years, I’ve been trained to think about the root causes, how to diagnose a problem and how to build a treatment strategy from the bottom up.

That’s the kind of attitude we need to take to address the opioid epidemic.

Everyone in this room knows that drug addiction does not discriminate. It’s affecting young and old, rich and poor, rural and urban.

Tennessee, like many states around the country, is dealing with this epidemic. In 2016 alone, the crisis took the lives of 1,600 Tennesseans.

I got into public service because of my health-care background. I saw costs rising and patient care suffering after the expansion of TennCare, and thought my experience would be valuable to the debate.

The opioid crisis is a very personal one. It’s impacting our communities, our friends, our families, our neighbors. It is both a law enforcement issue and a health care issue, so our solution must address both and provide both the resources needed.

The 19 bills incorporated into this markup today are great tools to combat the opioid epidemic, but we must remember that this issue cannot be legislated away.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but we have a moral imperative to protect our children and grandchildren.

Before we can begin reversing this crisis, we must take steps to educate our communities on the dangers of addiction, and empower our law enforcement officials to shut down and prosecute pill mills and overprescribing.

But most importantly, we must treat those who are addicted to opioids as patients who can recover.

I firmly believe that future generations will look back and judge us by how we handle the opioid crisis, and I would like to thank Chairman Brady and Chairman Roskam for their work to address this critical issue.

Two of Congressman Black’s proposals passed through Committee this afternoon. H.R. 5719, the Reducing Overprescribing Opioids in Treatment (ROOT) Act, would tackle the root cause of the opioid epidemic by addressing the link between Medicare incentive payments and patient satisfaction surveys. H.R. 5714, the Education for Disposal of Unused (EDU) Opioids Act, would educate the Medicare population on proper disposal techniques and Drug Takeback Programs in their area.


Congressman Diane Black represents Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District. A nurse for more than 40 years, she serves as a member of the House Budget Committee and the Ways and Means Committee.