Rep. Poliquin Demands House Vote on Heroin Legislation


Poliquin calls on Speaker Ryan to bring heroin legislation to House Floor


WASHINGTON – Maine’s Second District Congressman, Bruce Poliquin, sent a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan urging him to bring the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), a bill that will provide critical resources to Maine to combat the growing heroin epidemic in our State, to the House Floor for a vote.  The Senate passed the bill earlier this month.


In the letter, Congressman Poliquin writes:


“One of the most serious problems impacting Maine and America is the heroin and opioid epidemic that is taking the lives of hundreds people and causing unthinkable harm to our families, friends and communities,” writes Congressman Poliquin.


“It is now time for the House to act so that we can pass this crucial legislation and send it to the President’s desk for signature. Doing so will boost the efforts of our Maine families to better help their addicted loved ones with the treatment and long-term recovery to live drug-free and healthy lives.”


Since joining Congress, Poliquin has made it a top priority to use the full-weight of his Congressional Office to combat the growing heroin epidemic crippling Maine, including serving as an original cosponsor to the Cradle Act, a bill that would help the nearly 1,000 babies born addicted to heroin in Maine each year.  Congressman Poliquin is also a founding member of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, a Congressional body that aims to develop best practices and foster interagency collaboration to address this growing epidemic.




The following is the full text of Congressman Poliquin’s letter to Speaker Ryan:


March 25, 2016


The Honorable Paul Ryan

Speaker of the House of Representatives

House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515


Dear Speaker Ryan,


I write to urge you to bring H.R. 953, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) to the House floor for a vote.  One of the most serious problems impacting Maine and America is the heroin and opioid epidemic that is taking the lives of hundreds people and causing unthinkable harm to our families, friends and communities.


This important bipartisan legislation was introduced by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and would provide emergency federal funding and other needed resources for Maine, along with a number of other states that are in desperate need to curtail this drug epidemic. As our law enforcement agencies, treatment centers, social service networks and families work together to curb this dangerous and deadly drug problem, this legislation would provide critical steps to help end this tragedy. It would establish a comprehensive and coordinated approach through enhanced grant programs that would expand prevention and education efforts while also promoting treatment and recovery.


The Senate passed its version of the CARA Act on March 10, 2016 by a vote of 94-1. It is now time for the House to act so that we can pass this crucial legislation and send it to the President’s desk for signature. Doing so will boost the efforts of our Maine families to better help their addicted loved ones with the treatment and long-term recovery to live drug-free and healthy lives.


Again, I urge you to bring the CARA Act to the House floor. On behalf of all the Maine victims of this terrible and heartbreaking epidemic, I thank you for your consideration of this request.


Thank you,




Click HERE to see a PDF version of Congressman Poliquin’s letter to Speaker Ryan


Items to Note:


DHHS Intensifying Efforts To Prevent Opioid Abuse And Reduce Tobacco Use

03/11/2016 02:56 PM EST
*New Fund for Healthy Maine Request for Proposals establishes Statewide measurable goals and seeks the expertise to achieve them.*

**AUGUSTA** – The Maine Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that it is seeking to hire experts through the competitive procurement process to make significant progress in preventing heroin and opioid use and to reduce Maine’s smoking rates to the lowest in the nation.

Through the Maine Centers for Disease Control and the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, the DHHS has developed Prevention Services for Maine’s Public Health Districts, which will be released later today. The work outlined in this Request for Proposals (RFP) has been broken into four categories: opioid and other substance use and exposure prevention; tobacco use and exposure; youth engagement and empowerment; and mass-reach health communications. Bidders may submit proposals for any or all areas of work.

“While we recognize the need to address these critical areas of prevention, we know from national research that we need to approach the work differently in order to adapt to the ever-changing public health landscape,” said Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew. “We must move Maine’s public health system to one that leads the development of strategies that focus on prevention and wellness, builds diverse partnerships, and effectively integrates with clinical health. Public health must be more flexible and able to address emerging needs by taking swift and appropriate action.”

This new request for proposals aggressively targets Maine’s most pressing public health concerns:

– Last year, 272 Mainers died due to a drug-related overdose – Eight out of every 100 babies are born drug affected in Maine – Approximately 2,400 tobacco-related deaths occur in our state annually – An estimated 1,300 youth begin smoking each year

“We must do all that we can to stem the rising tide of opioid use and abuse. Heroin has taken far too many lives in Maine,” said Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Chief Officer Kenneth Albert. “At the same time, we cannot lose sight of the effect tobacco use has on the progression of chronic disease,” said Albert. “We simply must do a better job of further reducing and preventing the use of tobacco and exposure to secondhand smoke.”

The costs of tobacco are enormous, with more than $811 million in health-care related costs and $534 million in smoking-caused productivity losses. Despite the costs, tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Maine and across the nation. It is estimated that substance abuse costs Maine more than $1.4 billion annually.

Unlike previous Fund for Healthy Maine RFPs, this new proposal establishes consistent, measurable statewide goals, includes the requirement to routinely use data to drive decision-making, and requires maximized returns of investment across all areas of work. Linking the work to the State Health Plan at the District level, the use of strategies that have been proven effective and increased collaboration between public health and healthcare are also requirements of the proposal. With vendors who are experts in their respective fields, the Department will be able to evaluate progress and spending reports, and better articulate the value of the work as it pertains to consistent statewide goals.

Another key aspect of this effort is the strengthening and clarifying of the Public Health system and its structure. The Department is investing $1.45 million annually to support the nine District Coordinating Councils that comprise the statewide public health infrastructure.

“It has been improperly stated by legislators, advocates and the current Healthy Maine Partnerships that the HMPs are the public health infrastructure,” said Albert. “The District level infrastructure was very clearly established in 2007 by statewide partners and stakeholders, and the leadership responsibility falls squarely upon the District Coordinating Councils. That’s why we are investing in staffing support to assist the DCCs and strengthen their roles as the leaders of public health and their respective districts.”

The Department is expecting bids to represent participation and input from all active and vibrant public health partners.

“Maine faces significant chronic disease and addiction-related public health challenges. We need to effectively address the use and abuse of addictive substances to avoid increased healthcare and societal costs associated with this behavior,” said Commissioner Mayhew. “By focusing on early prevention of substance use and abuse by our youth we can increase the likelihood of them leading safe, healthy and productive lives.”

Once released, the RFP can be found at: or

272 People died of a drug overdose in Maine in 2015 – 31% jump

03/07/2016 03:41 PM EST
AUGUSTA – Maine has recorded another grim record due to drug overdose deaths. 272 people died in Maine in 2015 due to drug overdose, a 31% increase over 2014, which saw a record 208 overdose deaths. The final analysis of drug overdose deaths exceeded initial estimates largely due to an increase in deaths caused by heroin and/or fentanyl in the second half of the year.

In 2015, 157 deaths were caused by heroin and/or non-pharmaceutical fentanyl and 111 were caused by pharmaceutical opioids. Overdose deaths in 2015 caused by illicit drugs exceeded overdose deaths due to pharmaceutical opioids for the first time, even though the number of deaths caused by pharmaceutical opioids increased slightly as well. Nearly all deaths were in combination with other intoxicants.

“These figures are shocking,” said Attorney General Janet T. Mills. “Maine averaged more than five drug deaths per week. That is five families every week losing a loved one to drugs. These are sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, our neighbors, our friends. I applaud the families who have come forward to share their stories about the struggles they have endured in watching a loved one succumb to addiction and the pain it has caused. Behind every one of these deaths is a story that must be told as a warning to anyone who thinks opiates are a harmless party drug with no consequences. No one is immune from addiction. No one is immune from overdose. No one is immune from death. We must use every effort to intervene in these people’s lives before it is too late.”

Two-thirds of the decedents in 2015 from a drug overdose were men. The ages of decedents ranged from 18 to 89, though most deaths were of those under the age of 60. The average age of a decedent was 42 (the average age of a Maine resident is 43).

While all counties recorded at least one overdose death, approximately 78% of the overdose deaths occurred in Maine’s five most populous counties, which account for 65% of Maine’s population. Cumberland County recorded 32% (86) of the statewide total. The City of Portland recorded 46 deaths, followed by Lewiston with 15 deaths and Bangor with 13 deaths.

Comparing the 2014 and 2015 death rate per 100,000 of population for the five largest counties, Cumberland County’s rate increased from 15.3 to 30.5, an increase of 100%, Kennebec County increased 65%, Penobscot County increased 30%, Androscoggin County increased 4%, and York County increased 3%.

In 2015 there were 107 deaths attributable to heroin; 94 of which included at least one other drug or alcohol mentioned on the death certificate. Of the 87 deaths attributable to fentanyl or acetyl fentanyl, 68 included at least one other drug or alcohol mentioned on the death certificate. There were 34 deaths in which cocaine was involved in 2015, up from 24 in 2014.

“These death statistics are just one measure of Maine’s drug crisis,” said Attorney General Mills. “More must be done to preserve lives and protect our communities from the negative effects that drug abuse has on us. Prevention, intervention, treatment and law enforcement all must play larger roles in stemming this deadly tide.” The drug overdose death analysis was conducted for the Attorney General, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner by Marcella Sorg, PhD, D-ABFA of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine.