Congressman Darin LaHood Welcomes Secretary Price to Quincy for Roundtable Discussion
QUINCY, IL—Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18) welcomed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. to Quincy today for a roundtable discussion hosted at Quincy Medical Group. Participants provided local insights into how the medical community, care providers, and local law enforcement are cooperating to effectively help rural communities fight the ongoing opioid epidemic and regional perspectives into what challenges still exist.
“It is a privilege to welcome Secretary Price to the 18th District today, particularly to highlight how the Quincy area and rural America is continuing to fight the opioid epidemic,” stated Rep. LaHood. “Last year, I was proud to vote in favor of both the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act. These bills, which passed Congress and were ultimately signed into law, expanded resources to battle this wide-spread epidemic, including the authorization of $1 billion over two years to directly combat the opioid problem. Passing comprehensive, bipartisan legislation was a step in the right direction, but the fight is not over. Today was a great opportunity to update the Secretary on the progress our local communities are making, and an opportunity to discuss the tools they need as we move forward. I want to thank the Secretary for visiting today and look forward to future opportunities to work together in battling this epidemic.”
Secretary Tom Price, M.D. added during the press conference, “It’s been a great opportunity to meet with members of the Quincy community that have been collaborating on this challenge but others as well in the healthcare arena. The President is absolutely adamant about making certain that we stem the tide as it relates to the opioid crisis. The opioid crisis is one of the top three priorities for our department, and it is so for a variety of reasons. The numbers are staggering. … It has our attention and it has the Presidents attention and we are working as diligently as we can to move in a better direction and part of that is going across this land and talking with folks from communities, both large and small, about what’s working.”
Participants of today’s roundtable included: Secretary Tom Price, M.D., Congressman Darin LaHood, Adams County Sheriff Brian VonderHaar, Quincy Police Chief Robert Copley, Master Sgt. Patrick Frazier, Director of the Illinois State Police West Central Illinois Drug Task Force, Adams County States Attorney Gary Farha, Quincy Fire Chief Joe Henning, Hon. Debra Wellborn of the Adams County Adult Drug Court, Adams County Coroner Dr. James Keller, Adams County EMS Chief John Simon, Betty Coonrod of the Adams County Substance Abuse Coalition, Chief Medical Officer of Quincy Medical Group, Dr. Richard Schlepphorst, and Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore, State Senator Jil Tracy, State Representative Norine Hammond.
Nationally, the opioid epidemic continues to worsen. In the last 16 years, over 183,000 people have died from overdose of prescription drugs. Drug overdose remains the leading cause of accidental death in the United States with over 52,000 overdoses in 2015 alone and the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years of age. Over 20,000 of those accidental deaths were from overdose of prescription pain relievers. Additionally, the CDC has reported that while overdose of traditional opioids has dropped slightly, fatal overdoses involving heroin has tripled.
In Illinois, Adams County has seen first-hand the impact of opioid addiction and heroin use in recent years. Over the last 5 years, Illinois has experienced statistically significant increases in overall drug overdose deaths. Unfortunately, Adams County has been one of the hardest hit counties by this crisis. From 2010 to 2015, Adams County experienced a 359.62% increase in emergency department visit rates related to opioid and heroin overdose and a 300.67% increase in overdose mortality rates due to opioids and heroin. Over the summer of 2015 alone, Adams County EMS saw four times the number of heroin overdoses with emergency first responders doubling the stock of on-hand Narcan to combat the high rate of overdose calls.
This discussion builds off a previous roundtable hosted by Congressman LaHood in Quincy on May 2, 2016, to discuss the opioid epidemic leading up to the vote to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA), of which the Congressman was a co-sponsor.