The House Energy and Commerce Committee today approved an initiative by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) that would help law enforcement gain access to real-time information on drug overdoses. The Examining Opioid Treatment Infrastructure Act (H.R. 4982), as amended by Welch's initiative, was unanimously approved by the committee and will now head to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote.
The bill requires the Comptroller General to evaluate and report on the inpatient and outpatient treatment capacity, availability, and needs within U.S. communities. Welch's amendment would expand the report to identify barriers at the federal, state, and local levels to reporting information on drug overdoses to law enforcement in real-time. It would also require the report to include suggestions of ways to overcome those barriers with the goal of helping law enforcement quickly identify when, where, and how overdoses are occurring.
"The opioid epidemic is taking a heavy toll on families and communities across Vermont," Rep. Welch said. "We need all hands on deck to tackle this crisis. That includes giving law enforcement tools for accurate and real-time reporting so it can identify where overdoses are occurring and prevent them where possible."
Welch's amendment, cosponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-VW), was included in a package of bills approved by the Committee that tackles various aspects of the opioid epidemic.