Urgent national action is needed to address the opioid epidemic, hospital witnesses told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee at a field hearing today in Cleveland, voicing strong support for the AHA-backed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524). Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), the lead Republican sponsor of CARA, chaired the hearing, held at University Hospitals of Cleveland. He was joined by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who also supported the legislation. “Never have I seen a public health epidemic of such severity as the current opiate epidemic among our citizens,” said Michele Walsh, M.D., chief of neonatology at UH Rainbows Babies & Children’s Hospital, noting that the adult epidemic has led to a corresponding epidemic of narcotic-exposed newborns. “We must focus our efforts on a cohesive national strategy that attacks every facet of this complicated problem.” Emily Metz, program coordinator for a Project DAWN overdose prevention program cosponsored by MetroHealth, said, “We are at risk of losing a generation of Americans to a disease that devastates lives, families and entire communities.” She said CARA, which passed the Senate 94-1 in March, would promote innovative evidence-based strategies, interventions and treatments at the community level. The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee this week approved 12 bills to address the opioid crisis and other substance abuse disorders, which could pass the House as early as May and be reconciled with CARA later this year.