WASHINGTON – Legislation to help drug-exposed newborns has been introduced in the United States Senate.
The Senate bill — a companion to legislation first introduced by U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) in the House of Representatives, the Cradle Act — was introduced in the United States Senate by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Angus King (I-Maine).
“Going through withdrawal from heroin and other opioids is a horrific way to start one’s life, but that’s the reality for many newborns in West Virginia and across the country. Lily’s Place in Huntington is making a difference in the lives of babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome and their families, and we should encourage more centers to open nationwide to treat these newborns. I want to thank Senators Capito and King for their leadership in the Senate on this issue – by working together and across the aisle, we can fight the drug crisis and ensure healthy lives for children across the country,” Rep. Jenkins said.
Rep. Jenkins introduced the Cradle Act, H.R. 3865, in October 2015. The bill would establish clear guidelines for residential pediatric care centers to treat babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome, exposure to opioids during pregnancy. This legislation would direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to set up certification guidelines for these centers, just as there are certification guidelines for hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities. This legislation also includes an emphasis on residential pediatric recovery centers offering counseling to the mothers and families to help build those important connections from birth.
The Cradle Act enjoys bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. In the House, it is cosponsored by 32 members, with Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) signing on as the lead cosponsor. Rep. Clark introduced H.R. 1462, the Protecting Our Infants Act, to develop best practices for care of NAS babies, which has since been passed by both the House and Senate and signed into law.