Mooney: Answer to addiction epidemic is an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach

BUCKHANNON – During a visit Wednesday evening in Buckhannon, U.S. Congressman Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., delivered an update of what he has accomplished during the years since he was elected to represent West Virginia’s Second Congressional District.

The event was hosted by the Central West Virginia Republican Women.

Mooney said he began his career as Congressman in 2015 when Barack Obama was president.

“In 2015 and 2016, the President was Barack Obama and in 2016, Donald Trump wins as President,” Mooney said. “We were in a Republican House the whole time, then last year, we still had Donald Trump, but lost the U.S. House. Now, I am in a minority party, so I am having to learn about the different dynamics in the political process.”

Mooney said he did not foresee the U.S. House of Representatives going through with the Trump impeachment.

“I know that is top in everyone’s mind,” Mooney said. “Although, it is the last thing we should be dealing with or doing – we should be doing things to help Americans like dealing with the opioid crisis or transportation. We need to keep the economy going strong – but we have been doing well with that.”

According to the nonpartisan website Vote Smart, Mooney voted against impeaching the president Dec. 18 on the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Attendees asked Mooney about the drug epidemic and what, from a federal level, he sees being done to fight the root causes of the battle. Mooney said he feels when dealing with drug issues, it should be an “all-of-the-above approach.”

“We need churches, charities, local government and families to help with this – they are going to be the first to see the problems,” he said. “Local communities and state governments can set up the rehabs when you get to that, but that is not preventative. At that point, you are not at the root of the problem but treating the problem.”

Mooney said in his second year of office he helped get a law changed.

“I was at a hospital association meeting, and they said when doctors do not give opioids and painkillers during the newly passed [Affordable Care Act], they can have a portion of their reimbursements withheld,” the congressman said. “They were upset about it and said they are trying to prevent drug addicts from being created because statistics show 70 percent of drug addicts begin with legally prescribed drugs being prescribed to them.”

Mooney said the Affordable Care Act pushed patient satisfaction surveys and if the patients complained, a part of their reimbursement could be withheld.

“So, I checked into this and they were completely accurate,” Mooney said. “I went to the Department of Health and told them they shouldn’t put that on the form because it is going to be a problem. I put in a bill to repeal them being able to use the survey to punish the doctors who do not prescribe drugs for people.”

He said he had great bipartisan support.

“In July 2016, when they reset regulations, they took the exact wording of my bill and made it the law,” Mooney said. “So, I changed the law.”

Mooney said if Congress could pass a law tomorrow to solve the drug crisis, they would.

Folks asked about his opinion of needle exchange.

“I am not for needle exchange,” Mooney shared. “I don’t think you should give out needles for people to use illegal drugs. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I have voiced that for many years.”

Another person asked about the high cost of prescription drugs and what can be done about that.

Mooney said there is a bill that would provide transparency about why the drug costs so much – explaining how much it costs versus how much they are charging. And although he voted against a Democratic bill that would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs, he said developing cheaper drugs and increasing competition is important for lowering prices.

“It’s important the FDA be freed up to develop new drugs – drugs that have the same effect but are cheaper,” he said. “That is what we are pushing as Republicans and ways of increasing competition so the prices (of prescriptions) go down.”

Some of the important legislation Mooney has co-sponsored includes the Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act, Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act, State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act, Miners Pension Protection Act and the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.

Mooney can be contacted in his Washington, D.C. Office by calling 202-225-2711, his Charleston Office by calling 304-925-5964 or Martinsburg Office by calling 304-264-8810. Online updates are available at mooney.house.gov and on Facebook a @CongressmanAlexMooney and Twitter @repalexmooney.

Meetings of the CWVRW take place on the fourth Monday of each month. The group’s mission is to work positively to impact West Virginia and the U.S., while strengthening the Republican Party by recruiting, educating, supporting and electing Republicans.

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