A bipartisan group of U.S. representatives have announced the creation of task force that will be aimed at promoting policies to address addiction and mental health challenges in the U.S.
The group—to be called the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force—combines the Freshmen Working Group on Addiction launched by Rep. David Trone (Maryland) and the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, which was co-chaired by Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (New Hampshire) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania). Those three members of Congress, along with Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (Washington) announced the plan to merge the groups earlier this month.
The Bipartisan Opioid Task Force introduced more than two dozen bills to address the opioid epidemic in its 2020 legislative agenda, while the Freshman Working Group introduced a combined 50 bills related to addiction and mental health. As a combined group, the new Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force plans to release a 2021 legislative agenda that will address both public health crises, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“While we have a vaccine for COVID, we will never have a vaccine for addiction and mental health,” Trone said in a news release. “Recent data shows us that we have no time to waste in the fight against these crises.
Added Kuster: “Since I launched the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force in 2015, our efforts to respond to the opioid epidemic have evolved as we work to address this constantly changing nationwide crisis. Addiction and mental health are intrinsically linked, and our new Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force will allow us to meet the moment and focus on holistic solutions for addiction and co-occurring illnesses.”