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AG Reyes Joins 39 State Coalition Letter Urging Congress to Remove Federal Barriers to Treat Opioid Use Disorder

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 5, 2019

AG Reyes Joins 39 State Coalition Letter to Congressional Leadership Urging Congress to Remove Federal Barriers to Treat Opioid Use Disorder

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes sent a letter to Congressional leadership in both the House and Senate, asking for the removal of federal barriers that are currently preventing health care providers from offering treatment for opioid use disorder. 

Opioid use disorder is the physical and psychological reliance on opioids. Symptoms of opioid addiction include uncontrollable cravings for the drugs and the inability to control opioid use despite its negative impacts.

Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said it’s estimated that 2 million Americans struggle with opioid use disorder.

“States are on the front lines and are combining all of the resources at our disposal to stop the current crisis,” Attorney General Reyes said. “Although we have been successful in many ways, there is more that can be done by the federal government. By eliminating the barriers outlined in our letter, Congress can take meaningful, productive steps that will benefit those currently struggling with addiction before it’s too late.

“I appreciate my attorneys general colleagues who acknowledge that addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failing, and the more help we can provide for those struggling the better,” Attorney General Reyes added.

The letter outlines three areas that need to be addressed:

  • Replace the cumbersome, out-of-date, privacy rules contained in 42 CFR Part 2 with the effective and more familiar privacy rules contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA);
  • Pass HR 2482, the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which would eliminate unnecessary burdens on buprenorphine prescribing imposed by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000. Buprenorphine is one of three drugs used as part of Medication Assisted Treatment, the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder. Outdated and unnecessary federal requirements are discouraging doctors from prescribing this life-saving drug to patients who need it; and 
  • Fully repeal the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion. The IMD exclusion generally prohibits state Medicaid programs from receiving federal reimbursement for adults between 21 and 65 receiving mental health or substance use disorder treatment in a residential treatment facility with more than 16 beds.

“The opioid epidemic is tearing families apart all over our state and nation,” Attorney General Reyes said. “Opioid addiction, like all chronic illnesses, requires treatment for people to get healthy. We must remove all unnecessary barriers between people with opioid use disorder and the treatment they need. I urge Congress to take these needed steps.”

Utah is joined on the letter by attorneys general from Oklahoma, North Carolina, (the leaders of the letter); California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakoda, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Read the letter here.

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AG Reyes Urges Congress to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 17, 2018

 

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN D. REYES URGES CONGRESS TO SUPPORT FUNDING UNDER VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT
AG Reyes joins bipartisan group to keep protections in place for victims

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes today joined 55 other state and territory attorneys general to urge Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The attorneys general sent a letter earlier today to congressional leaders and the chairs of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, urging lawmakers to vote to reauthorize VAWA before it expires this year.

“The Violence Against Women Act has been vital in reducing the rates of domestic violence, raising awareness, and changing perceptions of abuse throughout our society. VAWA provides much-needed protections and services for women who have suffered at the hand of their abusers,” said Attorney General Reyes. “However, we still have much to accomplish to properly protect women in society. Sadly, one in three women will still experience rape, physical violence, or stalking in her lifetime. That is unacceptable. Reauthorization of this Act is essential to creating definitive and lasting change.”

Under VAWA, originally passed in 1994, over $6 billion in grant funding has been awarded to government and nonprofit organizations nationwide. The grants have funded training and assistance to address and reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The grants have also funded resources and services to assist survivors, prosecute offenders and facilitate partnerships between prosecutors, judges, advocates, community organizations and health care providers.

In their letter, the attorneys general emphasized the importance of VAWA in reducing the rate of sexual violence toward women and addressing the devastating effects of these crimes. They urged Congress to continue funding for programs that have helped millions of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.

Joining Utah, Florida, and Illinois in submitting the letter were the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, N. Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

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NOTES:

  1. You can find a copy of the joint letter here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Letter-to-Congress-VAWA-Letter.pdf.

AG Reyes urges Congress to close deadly Fentanyl loophole

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 23, 2018

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN D. REYES URGES CONGRESS TO CLOSE DEADLY FENTANYL LOOPHOLE
Utah joins bipartisan group in an effort to stem opioid supply

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, as part of a bipartisan group of 52 state and territory attorneys general, called on Congress today to help end the opioid epidemic and close a loophole that allows those who traffic deadly fentanyl to stay a step ahead of law enforcement.

“Plain and simple, the SOFA Act will save lives in our homes and communities,” said Attorney General Reyes. “When a new Fentanyl-like chemical hits the market, the DEA can quickly classify the new drug as illegal and take appropriate action. It also puts key ingredients beyond the reach of illegal manufacturers and gives law enforcement more tools. As we begin to gain ground in the fight against the opioid epidemic, this new law will prevent new crises, and stop the drug traffickers who prey upon our families.”

In partnership with by Attorneys General Brad Schimel, R-Wis., and George Jepsen, D-Conn., the state leaders today sent a letter to Congress in support of S. 1553 and H.R. 4922, Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act. Fentanyl is currently a Schedule II controlled substance and when used as prescribed by a doctor, can be a safe painkiller. However, outside of careful supervision, fentanyl and analogues manufactured illicitly can be lethal.

Brian Besser, DEA District Agent in Charge for the state of Utah and co-chair of the Utah Opioid Task Force, made the following statement:

Drug-related overdose incidents related to fentanyl, a highly potent and deadly synthetic opioid, are occurring at an alarming rate throughout the United States. The proliferation of illegal fentanyl products, as well as the continued clandestine production of fentanyl analogues, represents a very significant threat to public health and safety. Often laced with heroin and counterfeit prescription pills sold on the street, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30-50 times more powerful than heroin. Fentanyl is extremely dangerous to law enforcement and anyone else who may come into contact with it. The SOFA Act will significantly assist drug law enforcement efforts by proactively scheduling all newly-modified fentanyl analogues. This act alone will assist in saving countless lives by restricting access to fentanyl’s deadly ingredients and by helping investigators identify, arrest, and prosecute those high-level offenders who operate the fentanyl production and distribution networks which place our communities at risk.

The SOFA Act, if passed by the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, would eliminate the current loophole which keeps the controlled substance scheduling system one step behind those who manufacture fentanyl analogue and then introduce these powders into the opioid supply. Instead, the catch-all language utilized within The SOFA Act will allow the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to proactively schedule all newly-modified fentanyl analogues. This Act will help save lives by cutting off access to fentanyl’s deadly ingredients and by helping prosecutors lock up those at the top of fentanyl production and distribution rings.

In addition to Utah, Connecticut and Wisconsin, the other attorneys general who signed the letter were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

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NOTES:

  1. A copy of the letter can be found here: Letter to Congress – SOFA Act 8.23.

Photo by Jomar

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