In Congress’ first day in session after a divisive campaign cycle, two North Carolina lawmakers – a Republican and a Democrat – worked together to prevent a disruption in how emergency response workers dispense life-saving medicine.
Republicans have the right ideas ... but, I don’t think we can do it by ourselves.
Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., on bipartisan bill
“I don’t want politics to enter into this at all,” said Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican from Concord, North Carolina, who introduced the bipartisan legislation almost a year ago. “I believe that Republicans have the right ideas ... but, I don’t think we can do it by ourselves.”
Hudson, who recently won a third term in Congress from North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District, says he’s eager to find bipartisan solutions in Washington – especially on “common-sense” issues like making sure emergency personnel can help patients. His bill drew a bipartisan group of 130 House co-sponsors and a companion bill in the Senate has Democratic and Republican support.
Hudson’s “Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2016” would amend the federal drug law governing controlled substances, which includes narcotic pain medication and drug treatment for seizures. The bill seeks to ensure the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will allow paramedics and EMS crews to administer certain drugs without a specific patient prescription – an authority known to medical professionals as a “standing order.”
Supporters include the American Ambulance Association, the International Association of Fire Fighters and the National Association of EMS Physicians.
The issue arose last year when the DEA said that legislative action would be needed to continue to allow “standing orders” for EMS workers administering controlled substances.
On Monday, the bill passed in the U.S. House. Earlier this year, the bill earned immediate bipartisan support when Hudson’s fellow North Carolinian, Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat from Wilson, signed on as a co-sponsor.
“When health emergencies occur, there is no time to waste,” Butterfield said in a statement following Monday’s vote. “I am pleased to have led this effort with Congressman Hudson and I thank him for his leadership on this issue.”
Hudson says he decided to act after an EMS worker from Montgomery County told him pending DEA regulations threatened to change long-standing practices for paramedics. Major professional groups such as the American Ambulance Association, the International Association of Fire Fighters and the National Association of EMS Physicians endorsed the legislation.
Supporters say the EMS bill would also streamline DEA registrations for emergency agencies and medical directors operating in counties and states nationwide. Protecting “standing order” practices for certain controlled substances, Hudson says, will particularly benefit rural areas, where EMS crews are often the first medical personnel to reach a patient.