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Congressman Tom MacArthur

Representing the 3rd District of New Jersey

MacArthur’s Statement on Opioid Legislation Becoming Law

October 24, 2018
Press Release

The most significant congressional action against a single drug crisis in history

Toms River, New Jersey—Today President Trump signed the final bipartisan, bicameral opioid legislation into law. This comprehensive legislation is the most significant congressional action against a single drug crisis in history. Included in the final bill is the SENIOR Communities Protection Act authored by Congressman Tom MacArthur, co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force. Numerous provisions included in the opioid legislation were endorsed by the Task Force or authored by Task Force members, including the STOP Fentanyl Deaths Act, co-led by MacArthur, which improves the nation’s response to the growing threat of synthetic opioids like fentanyl and help public health laboratories better detect fentanyl and alert public health and law enforcement officials.

“For nearly four years, I’ve worked with elected officials, local advocates, health care specialists, and law enforcement officials in Burlington and Ocean Counties to understand the specific needs of our community. Today, we’ve kept our promise to those suffering from addiction and delivered real solutions to towns across America,” said Congressman MacArthur. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to lead the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force as we’ve provided law enforcement with more resources to go after criminals who peddle poison, and communities with resources to support comprehensive opioid recovery centers.  Because of the cooperative work of both Democrats and Republicans on the Task Force, health care professionals will have access to improved data to identify and help at-risk patients. This was an overwhelming bipartisan effort and I am grateful for the work of the 100 Task Force members that spearheaded many of the policies included in this final bill. Our work is not done and I will continue working for  solutions that fill the needs of our community. Today is proof that this crisis may be bigger than any one of us, but it is not bigger than all of us together.”

In addition to this legislation, MacArthur led bipartisan efforts to support other critical programs and legislation that assist local communities. MacArthur successfully saved the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) from Trump’s proposed budget cuts. Through a program within the ONDCP, two local NJ-03 organizations were each awarded $125,000 to support their efforts to prevent drug abuse. Furthermore, ONDCP designated Ocean County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). MacArthur worked with Senator Cory Booker and led the appeal to the White House urging the addition of Ocean County to the HIDTA program and met with local, county, state and federal law enforcement officials to discuss the importance of the designation. This designation helps coordinate joint efforts among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, and provides funds for resources needed to combat drug trafficking in problem areas.  The HIDTA designation and the federal resources which followed, have been credited as being vital to the massive drug bust earlier this year, which removed over 90,000 doses of heroin from South Jersey streets.

MacArthur co-introduced CARA 2.0, legislation that authorizes an additional $1 billion to combat the opioid crisis; this was in addition to the $6 billion in new funding agreed to earlier this year. Finally, thanks to MacArthur and the Task Force’s advocacy for full funding of the 21st Century Cures Act, New Jersey was awarded nearly $13 million in new funding to fight substance abuse.  


Background on Bipartisan Heroin Task Force policies included in the final bill:   

  • The SENIOR Communities Protection Act—Legislation that gives Medicare a new tool to crack down on bad actors who fraudulently use Medicare to flood our communities with narcotics.
  • STOP Fentanyl Deaths Act—Legislation that improves the nation’s response to the growing threat of synthetic opioids like fentanyl. This grant program would help public health laboratories better detect fentanyl and thereby alert public health officials and law enforcement.
  • Jessie’s Law—Legislation that is intended to help doctors access a consenting patient’s prior history of addiction to make better clinical decisions when providing treatment and other health care.
  • Synthetic Drug Awareness Act—Legislation that requires a landmark study on the public health effects of the rise in synthetic drug use, like fentanyl, among adolescents.
  • Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act—Legislation that requires all Medicare Part D prescriptions to be transmitted electronically. This better helps address doctor shopping, forged prescriptions, and theft.
  • Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act—Legislation that creates pediatric care centers within Medicaid to treat babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome.
  • Addiction Treatment Access and Improvement Act—Legislation that improves availability of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) by allowing physicians to treat up to 275 patients, permanently authorize physician assistants and nurse practitioners to provide buprenorphine and allow all Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to provide MAT.
  • Medicaid IMD Exclusion—Allows states to use Medicaid to pay for short-term treatment in facilities containing more than 16 beds.
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP)—Improves policies and resources for state PDMPs to ensure more responsible and safe opioid prescribing.