Costello tells committee of opioid epidemic's local impact

WASHINGTON - Some members of Congress have learned a little bit about the opioid epidemic's impact on Berks County and the surrounding area.

Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health as part of a bipartisan "Member Day" on the opioid crisis.

"It doesn't matter where you live – the opioid crisis has a significant negative impact on every American community," said U.S. Rep. Dr. Michael C. Burgess, a Texas Republican who chairs the subcommittee.

Costello, who represents Pennsylvania's 6th District, shared with his colleagues feedback he has received from constituents who have been personally impacted by the epidemic.

"I have learned firsthand the impact this epidemic is having on our communities in Pennsylvania," Costello said. "It is affecting families and individuals of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds."

Costello said the stories he's heard are why Congress must continue its work to pass legislation like the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act, both of which he supported and are now law.

"These bipartisan bills are helping our communities through increasing access to treatment, and expanding prevention, education, and intervention efforts," Costello said.

"In the communities I represent, a recurring sentiment I've heard was, 'You would not believe how much treatment costs,'" Costello continued.

In his testimony, Costello cited a cost of $35,000 for a 30-day stay at a treatment center and $10,000 for a 10-day detox.

"Families are being forced to refinance their homes, parents are taking on second jobs, and retirees are re-entering the workforce to help pay for treatment for a family member struggling with addiction," he told the subcommittee. "Those seeking help should not be faced with insurmountable costs."

Costello said he has added his name as a cosponsor of H.R. 1575, the Addiction Recovery through Family Health Accounts Act, which would help individuals provide financial assistance to family members struggling with addiction.

"Under current law, individuals can only use funds in their Health Savings Account, Flexible Spending Account, or Health Reimbursement Arrangement to pay for addiction treatment for their spouse or dependents," Costello said. "This bill would give individuals the option to use funds from these accounts to help family members receive drug treatment – be it a niece, a grandfather, a cousin, a grandchild's spouse, in-laws, etc."

Several other members of Congress also testified at the hearing, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

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