Committee Democrats Combat Effects of Opioid Epidemic in the Workplace

WASHINGTON – Today, the Subcommittees on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions and Workforce Protections held a joint hearing entitled, “Opioids Epidemic: Implications for America’s Workplaces.” American workplaces are feeling the effects of substance use disorders. Studies show that more than 70 percent of employers are feeling the direct impact of prescription drug misuse in their workplaces, ranging from absenteeism and reduced productivity to higher health care costs.

“It is no surprise that the impacts of the crisis are being felt in the workplace – by both workers and businesses,” 
said Ranking Member Sablan (NMP-AL), Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee. U.S. companies lose billions of dollars a year because of employees' drug and alcohol use and related problems. But it is the human toll that is the most devastating consequence of this epidemic.”

Comprehensive health coverage is critical for workers with substance use disorders. Republicans claim that they want to address the opioid crisis, but continue to put forth policies that would roll back the Affordable Care Act and erode Medicaid expansion. These proposals would have a devastating effect for those who depend on this coverage to seek treatment.

“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has extended health insurance coverage to nearly one million people with opioid use disorders. Many are in the workforce. If the law were repealed, nearly one-third of all Americans with an opioid use disorder would suddenly lose access to treatment,” stated Dr. Christina M. Andrews, Professor of Social Policy at the University of South Carolina. “Moreover, Medicaid waivers that impose work requirements could force beneficiaries to quit treatment in order to maintain their coverage, with negative effects for the workplace and the epidemic.”

Workers impacted by substance use disorders benefit from strong workplace policies that help them stay on the job. Policies, such as paid family and medical leave, allow individuals to take leave to care for family members needing treatment without worrying about losing their income or their jobs. Despite continuous threats by Republicans to repeal health care or other benefits that help workers, Committee Democrats press for solutions that keep America’s workforce safe, healthy, and thriving.

“The opioid epidemic – and substance abuse more broadly – has affected every community in every corner of our country. Our response must be as far-reaching as the crisis,”
said Ranking Member Takano (CA-41), Workforce Protections Subcommittee. “Employers can be an important part of the solution by ensuring that our workplaces support the health and well-being of American workers. Leveraging the resources of employers across the country, we can set the foundation for more productive employees and healthier communities.”

OPENING STATEMENT: Ranking Member Gregorio Sablan, Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee

CLOSING STATEMENT: Ranking Member Mark Takano, Workforce Protections Subcommittee

OPENING STATEMENT: Dr. Christina M. Andrews, Professor of Social Policy, University of South Carolina

Press Contact

Democratic Press Office, 202-226-0853