Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

House Acts to Protect Babies Born to Drug Addicts

May 12, 2016
Press Release
Every 19 Minutes a Child is Born Addicted to Opioids

“It’s Time Congress Stand Up For These Innocent Children”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today urged the Senate to quickly pass three bipartisan bills approved by the House this week to help babies born addicted to heroin and prescription drugs. The bills were part of a landmark legislative package combatting the growing problem of drug addiction in America.

A baby is born dependent on opioids every 19 minutes in America as a result of the mother’s addiction.

“One of the most heartbreaking effects of the heroin and prescription drug crisis is the suffering of innocent babies that are born to parents struggling with addiction,” Buchanan said. “It’s time Congress stand up for these innocent children. These bills will help deliver treatment to pregnant mothers and their newborns.”

According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, more children are being sent into foster care as a result of heroin and opioid abuse. Buchanan, the chairman of the Ways and Means’ Subcommittee on Human Resources, will hold a hearing next week on the child welfare system’s response to this challenge.

Buchanan represents Manatee County, the epicenter of the heroin crisis in Florida. Manatee County had more heroin overdose deaths per capita than any other Florida county in 2014.

The House unanimously approved the Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to certify that every state has a program to care for opioid-dependent babies and share best practices on the care for babies addicted to opioids.

The Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act reauthorizes residential substance abuse programs for pregnant women and new mothers suffering from addiction.

The Nurturing and Supporting Healthy Babies Act requires the Government Accountability Office to submit a report to Congress on the effectiveness of existing programs that treat babies suffering from withdrawal symptoms. 

Later today the House is poised to take up the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 5046), which Buchanan has co-sponsored. This legislation provides over $500 million in funding to state and local entities to enhance anti-drug education, prevention and treatment programs.

The Congressman has been an active leader in addressing the heroin crisis in Florida. Earlier this year he hosted a roundtable in Bradenton, Fla. with local police officers, medical professionals and other key stakeholders. Buchanan also recently chaired a meeting of the bipartisan 29-member Florida congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., where members heard testimony from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-WI, author of H.R. 5046, anti-drug experts and a recovering heroin addict.

Buchanan has been at the forefront of the fight to crack down on drug abuse for years. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency adopted Buchanan’s proposal to make it more difficult for abusers to obtain certain highly addictive narcotics.