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Pascrell-McKinley Alternatives to Opioids Amendment Passes House

Amendment will fund the Alternative to Opioids in the Emergency Department Program established by Pascrell-authored legislation in 2018

U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and David McKinley (R-WV-01) celebrated House passage of their amendment to fund the Alternatives to Opioids in the Emergency Department (ALTO) program at $6 million for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021). Pascrell was the primary House sponsor of the law authorizing the program, which was included in the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-271). The inspiration for this program that reduces the use of opioids was pioneered at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey.

“The ALTO program we created is an important tool for our arsenal of our the fight against opioid use disorder. The McKinley-Pascrell amendment to boost funding for ALTO that passed today will support our efforts and save lives,” said Rep. Pascrell. “Since 2018, our ALTO legislation has provided a ground-breaking preventative blueprint for hospitals and health care providers across America as they grapple with the opioid epidemic. Expansion of this program is bipartisan, progressive, and forward-looking. Most importantly, it will protect American lives.”

“Developing alternatives to opioids for pain treatment is an issue we’ve been working on for years. The opioid epidemic requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, and the ALTO program is another tool that will help in the fight,” said Rep. McKinley. “The McKinley-Pascrell amendment to increase funding for ALTO,  helps reduce our nation’s dependence on these dangerous pills.”

As a first line of defense for combatting the opioid epidemic, emergency departments are well-positioned to be laboratories of new innovations to combat the crisis. Eager to try fresh approaches to address the epidemic, St. Joseph’s team, led by its director of emergency medicine, Dr. Mark Rosenberg, and hospital CEO, Kevin Slavin, created the ALTO program. ALTO utilizes non-opioid protocols instead of painkiller prescriptions to treat acute pain. St. Joseph’s launched its ALTO program in 2016, and two years later the number of opioid prescriptions written had decreased by more than 80 percent. The model has been so successful that St. Joseph’s has expanded the protocol to other departments within the hospital, and Dr. Rosenberg has travelled the country helping other health systems get ALTO programs up and running. With today’s passage of additional funding for the ALTO program, the St. Joseph’s model will be able to expand even further and save lives by preventing countless unnecessary opioids from being prescribed.


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