Rep. Walden announces dozens of bills to address opioid crisis

Rep. Greg Walden stands in front of people who all play a role in the fight against the opioid crisis, including family of an addict. (KTVL/Mike Marut)

On Monday, Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) announced dozens of bills that would be introduced to help combat the opioid crisis gripping Oregon and the country.

The House Energy and Commerce committee unanimously approved of 25 of the bills that underwent a markup near the end of April.

One bill in particular focuses on fighting so called "patient brokers" who look to take advantage of recovering addicts and their insurance companies, according to Walden at a press conference Monday.

"People have been tried and convicted for appalling practices like these, but we can do more to ensure that bad actors are held accountable and patients are set up to stay clean," Walden said in conjunction with this bill.

A family from Grants Pass joined Walden at the lectern in Walden's office to tell their story.

Mike and Winnie Pelfrey's son is battling opioid addiction. He was in recovery in a sober living home and the person taking care of him in the home said he was improving. His parents, out of desperation according to Mike, wrote an initial check and a second check a month later after hearing of his improvement. According to Mike, his son was "kicked out" of the sober living facility days after Mike and Winnie sent the second check.

"It's not just the addicts who have problems, we as parents and loved ones need to know how to treat our loved ones and family members," Mike Pelfrey said.

Mike continued on to say this is not a political issue, the opioid crisis is an American issue.

Walden admitted while the numerous bills are a good step forward, his committee must toe the line between overlegislating to the point people who need the pills don't get them, and letting the problem go unchecked and allowing addiction to opioids to continue at the alarming rate it has.

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