Summary: At his weekly press conference, Speaker Ryan underscored the urgency of the opioid epidemic and discussed why the bills the House is considering now are so important.
“Take a look at this. This opioid crisis—this is an epidemic in the true sense of the word.
“I want to paint a picture of just the urgency we are facing in this country.
“This chart shows you that the national death rate—the national death rate—13.3 opioid overdoses for every 100,000 Americans.
“As you can see, there has been a huge spike. This goes from 1999 to 2016. We had a 28 percent spike in the opioid death rate from 2015 to 2016. Twenty-eight percent increase in deaths, in the death rate of opioids, in one year in this country.
“This is an alarming scale. This spike represents so many families who are grappling with the loss of a loved one.
“So much potential, squashed and squandered in this life. People at the peak of their lives, losing their lives.
“All told, an estimated 2.7 million people across the country are struggling with opioid dependence or addiction.
“You heard those heart wrenching stories yesterday. This is very serious. This is costing us lives.
“This is why we are so focused on ending this opioid epidemic. It’s why the bills we are passing this week and next week are so critical.
“We are acting on more than 50 initiatives covering a range of areas: prevention, treatment, recovery support, strengthening law enforcement tools, helping veterans, expanding research.
“This is all hands on deck, and we are going to keep at this, for the sake of the families who are hurting right now.”