VIDEO: HOUSE TO PASS REP. JENKINS’ NAS HEALTHY BABIES ACT TODAY
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives is set today to pass bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) to help babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, exposure to drugs during pregnancy.
The Nurturing and Supporting Healthy Babies Act, also known as the NAS Healthy Babies Act, would expand our knowledge of care of NAS babies, including the prevalence of NAS in the United States, the number of NAS babies covered by Medicaid, the settings for care for NAS babies, obstacles to care, and access to care for NAS babies under state Medicaid programs.
“During pregnancy, a baby is exposed to any drugs the mother takes. As soon as they are born, their bodies begin going through withdrawal from heroin, opioids, and other drugs. Not even babies are immune from the effects of this drug epidemic. Until you see these babies going through withdrawal yourself, you cannot imagine their suffering,” Rep. Jenkins said on the House floor.
This bill is one of more than a dozen the House will pass this week to address our nation’s opioid epidemic.
The full transcript is below.
“Mr. Speaker, the United States is in the middle of a drug crisis that is ravaging urban and rural communities alike. We have seen overdose rates skyrocket the United States in recent years.
“My home state of West Virginia sits atop the list, and I have seen firsthand the destruction that the disease of addiction has brought to our cities and towns.
“But imagine for a moment actually starting your life in the throes of withdrawal. This is the tragic reality for thousands of newborns nationwide.
“During pregnancy, a baby is exposed to any drugs the mother takes. As soon as they are born, their bodies begin going through withdrawal from heroin, opioids, and other drugs.
“Not even babies are immune from the effects of this drug epidemic. Until you see these babies going through withdrawal yourself, you cannot imagine their suffering. Their bodies shake with tremors. Their cries are heartbreaking. They are sensitive to noise, to light, even to touch. No baby should have to go through withdrawal in the first hours, in their first days or weeks of their lives.
“We in the House are working together on this critical issue. We are passing much-needed legislation to create a path to recovery and a path to a healthy start in life for every child.
“I am honored to have legislation included in the package of bills this week. The Nurturing and Supporting Healthy Babies Act will expand our knowledge of coverage and care for newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS, babies suffering withdrawal from drug exposure after birth from the exposure during pregnancy.
“The drastic increase in NAS, the challenges to developing new models of care, and breaking down regulatory burdens are things I know all too well.
“I helped start Lily’s Place in my hometown of Huntington, West Virginia, which treats NAS newborns in a standalone facility. The care given is complementary to the traditional hospital setting. Lily’s Place offers clinical care by doctors and nurses as well as social workers for families.
“Hearing the cries of these newborns will forever change you. We owe it to each and every child to make sure they have a chance to start their lives healthy and happy.
“I wish to thank Congressman Guinta and Congresswoman Kuster for their leadership on the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic. By working together, we can find solutions and build a brighter future. I yield back.”