November 8, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) and members of the Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a hearing to address the national impact of the opioid crisis titled, “Close to Home: How Opioids are Impacting Communities. 

*Below are remarks by Rep. Espaillat as prepared for delivery during today’s hearing.

            “The opioid epidemic is a national crisis that is not letting up.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 90 Americans are lost to this epidemic each and every day. Ladies and gentlemen, that is far too many, gone far too soon.

            “It’s about time President Trump has declared this a public health emergency, but he fell well short of the national emergency declaration he promised initially.  Additionally, President Trump’s announcement comes with no funding or resources, but rather forces already cash-strapped agencies to do more with less.

            “Like so many communities across the country, New York City and New York State have seen increases in overdoses involving prescription painkillers and heroin in all socioeconomic circles.  In 2016, in New York City alone, 1,374 people died from overdoses – that’s twice the number of deaths from homicides or car wrecks.  Nearly three quarters (or 72 percent) of all overdose deaths involved heroin and/or fentanyl (14.2 per 100,000 residents) in 2016.  The South Bronx has the highest rate of overdoses at 37.1 out of every 100,000 people.  In 2016, the rate was highest among White New Yorkers compared with Latino and Black New Yorkers (18.9 vs. 16.9 and 12.3 per 100,000, respectively).

            “Congress has taken some steps to help address the growing issue, such as the $1 Billion in funding for State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis grant program through the 21st Century Cures Act, BUT still much work remains and we have not done nearly enough to combat this problem.

            “Medicaid plays a critical role in substance abuse treatment and behavioral health services – continued attempts to gut our Medicaid program leave the most vulnerable, including those who have fallen victim to opioid abuse without a lifeline of health care services they so desperately need.  Even after stating that the opioid crisis needs immediate attention, Republicans in the House continue to push legislation aimed at dismantling the ACA, taking critical funding form the Public Health Prevention Fund, and slashing Medicaid funding.  Each of these efforts undercuts the nation’s fight against this epidemic, and people will continue to die.

            “While naloxone, the drug that reverses an opioid overdose is not the solution to the problem, ensuring that our emergency response personnel and medical providers have access to these drugs can and do save lives every day.

            “Given the lack of funding and resources from the federal government, New York City has implemented its own program – Healthy NYC – which has invested $38 million aimed at decreasing opioid deaths by 35 percent over the next 5 years.  The program is already seeing results.  I applaud this effort, but New York along with cities, towns, and communities across the country cannot do this alone.  Rather than slashing funding for critical health programs, we need to be investing in efforts that will effectively combat this crisis.

            “Not only do we need to ensure that medical services and treatment options are available, but we must be better about keeping deadly synthetic drugs like fentanyl out of our country.  Far too many lives have been lost.”

Watch video of today’s hearing in its entirety.

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First elected to Congress in 2016, Rep. Adriano Espaillat is serving his first term in Congress where he serves as a member of the influential U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the House Select Committee on Small Business.  He is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and serves in a leadership role as CHC Freshman Representative to the Democratic Caucus. He is also chairman of the CHC Task Force for Transportation, Infrastructure and Housing.  Rep. Espaillat’s Congressional District includes Harlem, East Harlem, northern Manhattan and the north-west Bronx. To find out more about Rep. Espaillat, visit online at

Media inquiries: Candace Randle Person at