Sunny Goggles, the director of the White Buffalo Recovery Program, testifies about substance abuse at a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing in Washington, D.C, on July 29, 2015. The program is operated on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming by the Northern Arapaho Tribe. Photo: SCIA
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Senate Committee on Indian Affairs convenes hearing on opioids

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is once again tackling the opioid crisis in tribal communities.

Tribal leaders first came to the committee nearly three years ago to explain how heroin, prescription drugs and other substances were destroying their people. The crisis continues but now states and even the Trump administration are on board in addressing the devastating effects of opioids.

Along those lines, lawmakers will be looking at ways in which Indian Country is moving "beyond" the epidemic. Federal officials and tribal representatives are providing testimony on Wednesday afternoon about efforts to bring healing into the picture.

The hearing also gives the committee an opportunity to determine whether the Indian Health Service and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have any made progress since the issue last came up. Both agencies had been criticized in July 2015 for not doing enough to provide key services to tribes.

As part of its fiscal year 2019 request, the IHS is proposing $150 million in new funding to address opioid prevention, treatment and recovery. But since the agency remains without a permanent leader, its chief medical officer is testifying before the committee instead.

The hearing takes place at 2:30pm Eastern in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. It will be webcast on the committee's site.

The full witness list follows:
Panel 1:
The Honorable John C. Anderson
United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico
U.S. Department Of Justice, Albuquerque, NM

CAPT Christopher Jones, Pharm.D., M.P.H
National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Laboratory, Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD

RADM Michael Toedt, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Indian Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD

Panel 2:
Ms. Jolene George
Behavioral Health Director
Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Kingston, WA

Mr. Samuel Moose
Treasurer and Bemidji Area Representative
National Indian Health Board, Bemidji, MN

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice:
Oversight Hearing on "Opioids in Indian Country: Beyond the Crisis to Healing the Community" (March 14, 2018)

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