Miss. Senator Worked to Ensure Greater Telehealth Usage to Treat Opioid Addiction

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today voted for Senate passage of legislation to significantly ramp up federal efforts to stop the trafficking of fentanyl and other opioids, while also strengthening programs to treat abuse and addiction to the highly-addictive drugs.

Hyde-Smith worked to include telehealth provisions in the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 (S.2680), which was approved by a 99-1 vote.  The bipartisan legislation is a compilation of opioid-related bills, including the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act and the Hyde-Smith cosponsored e-Treat Act.

“Opioid abuse and overdoses are social and public safety crises.  Mississippi is affected as much as any other state in terms of criminal activity, burdens on health services, and the tragic toll on lives,” Hyde-Smith said.  “This legislation is a strong response to stop the trafficking of fentanyl, heroin, and other opioids, while also addressing the need for better abuse prevention and treatment options.”

During development of S.2680, Hyde-Smith advocated for inclusion of e-Treat Act provisions to expand the use of telehealth services for opioid use disorder treatment.  Section 2101 provisions, which lift restrictions on delivery and fees, are intended to ensure greater treatment services are available via telehealth in rural and underserved areas.

The Mississippi Board of Pharmacy, in collaboration with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and other agencies, issued an interagency report in April which showed that a majority of overdose deaths in Mississippi in 2017 were opioid-related.  It also assessed drug-related crime in the state, noting almost 20,000 drug-related arrests last year.

Overall, the Senate measure would help stop illegal drugs at the border, including provisions to require greater cooperation between the U.S Postal Service and customs inspectors to stop the shipment of synthetic opioids—the majority of which are produced in China.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hyde-Smith has supported increased Homeland Security funding to combat the illicit movement of opioids through U.S. ports of entry.


Hyde-Smith also serves on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Subcommittee which crafted a FY2019 bill that provides additional resources for opioid-related treatment and prevention, alternative pain medication development, and workforce needs, especially in our rural communities

The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 must now be reconciled with a similar House-passed bill before it can be sent to President Trump.

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith Press Release