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House passes bill to combat opioid epidemic

Brandon Moseley

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed HR6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which includes over 45 separate bills to combat the national opioid crisis. The bipartisan package passed by a vote of 396 to 14.

Congressman Bradley Byrne said: “The opioid crisis has infiltrated communities all across our country and torn families apart. No community is immune from the opioid crisis. Here in the People’s House, we are committed to tackling this issue head on and providing support to patients and communities.”
Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s, D-Selma, bipartisan bill to address the opioid crisis is part of the larger legislative package, HR6.

“The Preventing Addiction for Susceptible Seniors (PASS) Act helps prevent abuse among seniors without limiting access to needed medications,” Rep. Sewell said. “The opioid epidemic doesn’t discriminate by age, income, or gender – we have to give all Americans a path out of addiction.”

“Sadly, over 750 Alabamians die from an opioid overdose each year,” Rep. Byrne said. “I am confident this exhaustive package of bills will ensure quality care for those seeking help and provide our communities the resources to prevent the spread of this epidemic. It’s time we end the cycle.”

The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act targets four main issue areas: treatment and recovery, prevention, protecting communities, and fighting fentanyl.

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This effort follows the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act last Congress, as well as the $4 billion in funding set aside to combat the opioid epidemic in the omnibus earlier this year.

The House passed HR6082, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (OPPS Act), which will align 42 CFR Part 2 (Part 2) with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for the purposes of health care treatment, payment, and operations.

The Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness (ABHW) spearheaded the conversation around the outdated law, the barriers it creates to providing evidence-based coordinated care, and the need to modernize Part 2 to have parity in the treatment of substance use disorder, mental health, and medical records.

Pamela Greenberg, MPP, President and CEO, Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness said: “We are pleased that members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted in a bipartisan manner today to pass HR6082, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act. We thank Congressmen Markwayne Mullin, R-OK, and Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, for their diligent efforts to move this legislation through Congress. It is encouraging that Members of Congress recognize the importance of aligning the treatment of substance use disorder (SUD) records with how all other medical and behavioral health records are managed. This bill will facilitate integrated care for individuals with an opioid or other substance use disorder while maintaining, and in fact enhancing, the protections that currently exist for SUD records.”

64,050 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs.

 

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Roby thanks Trump, Pence for helping her defeat Bright

Brandon Moseley

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Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) won a resounding victory over former Congressman Bobby Bright. The two had faced off before in 2010 when the Republican Montgomery City Council woman Roby unseated the Democratic incumbent in Bright. Roby won the first contest in a hard fought general election. Eight years later, Bright had switched to the Republican Party and Roby was the incumbent U.S.

Representative. Roby won the rematch in a race that was nowhere near as close as polls had anticipated.
A triumphant Roby thanked a crowded room full of supporters at Montgomery’s Renaissance Hotel and Conference Center.

“I’m honored and humbled that the people of Alabama’s Second District have again placed their trust and confidence in me, and that I will have the opportunity to continue to do this job on their behalf,” Congresswoman Roby said. “On behalf of my family and me, thank you to each person who went out to the polls today to support me.”

“Over the past several months, Team Roby traveled up and down our district to touch as many voters as we possibly could to remind them why I believe I am best positioned to continue to fight for the conservative values we all hold dear,” Roby said. “To all of the people who took the time to talk with me and my team on your doorstep, on your porch, while driving down the road, or enjoying a meal — please know how much the time you spent with us means to our campaign. We didn’t take one vote for granted, and I truly valued visiting with so many great people on the campaign trail.”

Roby thanked God, her campaign team, the Second Congressional District voters and her family who, “I could not have done this without.” Roby also offered her, “Sincere thanks for President Trump and Vice President Pence for their endorsements and support.”

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Both President Donald J. Trump (R) and Vice President Mike Pence (R) had personally endorsed Roby in her bid for re-election.

“I wake up each and every day trying to be the best representative for you,” Roby told her supporters. “and to be in the best position to fight for your conservative values.”

“I am proud of the race we ran,” Roby said. “We ran a campaign based on fact and record and not on one of character assassination. As your representative I will always try to campaign with civility and grace.”

“Over the last year and a half, it’s been a great privilege to be a part of the conservative momentum and to work alongside my colleagues in Congress and the Trump Administration to push some very important priorities over the finish line,” Roby added. “We are in a unique position to accomplish even more, and I’m eager to continue the fight.”

Roby acknowledged that not everyone in this room is in total agreement on policy; but that is a good thing.

Roby was elected in the 2010 Republican wave election that swept Republicans into control of the House of Representatives after four years of Democratic control. Some conservatives in the district have criticized Roby in the past for being too willing to work with Speakers of the House Paul Ryan and John Boehner before that. Some of those conservatives supported a challenger against Roby in 2016, Wetumpka Tea Party founder Becky Gerritson. GOP voters chose Roby; but then became angry with the Congresswoman over some angry comments that Roby had for Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign and her withdrawing her endorsement of Trump.

Conservatives were incensed and Roby faced four primary challengers in the GOP primary. Roby had less than forty percent of the vote in the primary with Bright besting three more conservative challengers.

Between the primary and the primary runoff, the Republican Party however coalesced behind Roby, and are poised to move on to the general election on November 6 with momentum.

At press time, with 82 percent of the vote in Martha Roby had 41,386 votes, 68.2 percent versus Bobby Bright who had just 19,322 votes, 31.8 percent.

Bobby Bright is a former Mayor of Montgomery.

Roby will face Tabitha Isner (D) in the November 6 general election.

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Sewell, LaHood introduce bipartisan bill to strengthen ambulance services, combat fraud

Brandon Moseley

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Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-Selma) and Congressman Darin LaHood (R-Illinois) have introduced H.R. 6269, a bipartisan bill to prevent upcoming Medicare cuts to reimbursements for ambulance service providers.

In order to pay for better reimbursement rates, the legislation reduces reimbursements for fraudulent ambulance service providers, specifically targeting providers who primarily provide non-emergency transportation.

Rep. Sewell said that the, “Bill ensures that good actors in the ambulance industry don’t have to pay for the crimes of bad actors.”

“It is vital that we support emergency services providers in our rural areas, yet upcoming modifications to Medicare payments threaten to unfairly impact 24-7 emergency ambulance services in rural America,” Rep. LaHood said. “These changes will disrupt providers’ ability to plan and offer comprehensive services around the clock to rural patients, like many of my constituents throughout Central & West Central IL. Our bill would correct this by reforming the program to reflect the reality of the work these providers do in our communities, while continuing to assist all ambulance services to assure they meet the needs of Medicare patients in the 18th District.”

“When emergency strikes, our communities depend on a network of reliable ambulance providers, and today’s bill supports that network by preventing Medicare cuts to ambulance reimbursement,” Rep. Sewell said. “In order to strengthen Medicare, our bill also cracks down on fraud within the ambulance industry, weeding out deceptive providers who take advantage of fragile dialysis patients and drain Medicare of funds with unnecessary ambulance transports. Today’s legislation finds a commonsense solution to the challenge of providing all Americans with access to emergency transportation which Members on both sides of the aisle can support.”

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“I want to thank my colleague Congresswoman Sewell for co-authoring this bipartisan legislation with me, as well as the stakeholders throughout the 18th District, and I look forward to working together to get this vital legislation passed,” Rep. LaHood said.

The bill has been referred Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).
The legislation is anticipated to have a bipartisan Senate companion introduced in the coming weeks.

On February 9, 2018, the House passed a government funding bill which included a proposal by Rep. Sewell to increase ambulance reimbursements for providers in rural areas.

Rep. Terri A. Sewell represents the Seventh Congressional District.

Sewell is seeking a fifth term. She has no Republican opponent.

She sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and was recently appointed to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Sewell is a Chief Deputy Whip and serves on the Democratic Caucus’s Steering and Policy Committee. She is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and serves as Vice Chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, and Vice Chair of Outreach for the New Democrat Coalition. She is the only Black woman to have ever represented the State of Alabama in the United States Congress.

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After Trump-Putin Summit, Byrne says Russia is an adversary

Brandon Moseley

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President Donald J. Trump (R) held his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.  The two world leaders met alone for two hours and then held a news conference.

President Trump has been widely criticized for his comments at the meeting; by analysts who thought he was not tough enough in his comments to the Russian President.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said, “I applaud President Trump’s decision to start a dialogue with President Putin and I’m glad he is making it a priority. However, we must remember that Russia is not an ally – economically or militarily.”

Byrne stately bluntly, “They are an adversary. The United States should not tolerate actions by the Russians that intervene in our domestic affairs or pose a threat to our national security.”

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) was even more critical of President Trump’s meeting and press conference with Putin in Helsinki.

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“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory,” Sen. McCain said in a statement. “The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.”

“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin,” Sen. McCain continued. “He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world. It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout – as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.“
McCain is chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee but has been sidelined recently for most of the last year due to advanced brain cancer.

“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” McCain stated.

American intelligence sources have claimed that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election. Pres. Putin strongly denied interfering in the 2016 Presidential election.

Pres. Putin said, “The Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs, including election process.”

Pres. Trump appeared to accept Putin’s denial.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people. But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said. “Dan Coats [the director of national intelligence] came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) disagreed with that assessment.

“There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” Speaker Ryan said. “That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy.”

Trump continues to deny that his campaign colluded with the Russian government on the campaign. “I didn’t know the President. There was nobody to collude with.”

(Original reporting by Fox News and the Washington Post contributed to this report.)

Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.

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House passes bill to combat opioid epidemic

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