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House passes Butterfield’s emergency medicine bill

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WASHINGTON — A bipartisan bill that would enhance emergency medics’ ability to dispense lifesaving drugs sponsored by Rep. G.K. Butterfield gained unanimous approval in the U.S. House on Monday.

Members voted 404-0 to pass H.R. 304, the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act, which is co-sponsored by Butterfield, D-Wilson, and Rep. Richard Hudson, R-Concord.

“This legislation ensures that first responders in North Carolina and throughout the country are able to continue to provide lifesaving medications to people experiencing health emergencies,” Butterfield said in a statement. “I urge the U.S. Senate to swiftly pass and President Obama to sign this important legislation so that more lives can be saved. I thank Congressman Hudson for his leadership on this important and bipartisan issue.”

The bill would allow the Drug Enforcement Administration to authorize EMS agencies to dispense controlled substances. Federal law currently requires agencies’ medical directors and individual practitioners to meet registration requirements.

H.R. 404 states that emergency medical technicians employed by a registered EMS agency can administer medication under a standing order issued by a medical director. The order would not have to be specific to an individual patient.

Butterfield and Hudson re-introduced the bill last week. It passed the House in 2016 but did not receive a Senate floor vote.

“The health of our community isn’t a partisan issue, and today’s bipartisan support of this essential bill is a testament to that,” Hudson said in a Monday statement. “Congressman Butterfield has been a reliable partner in this effort, and I appreciate his hard work. This bill may not be flashy, but it solves a problem and saves lives. It’s an example of how to get things done — finding common ground and advancing bipartisan solutions to get results the American people deserve.”

Butterfield is in his seventh term representing North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District and is chief deputy Democratic whip. Hudson, who represents the 8th District, is in his third term and chairs the House Agriculture Policy Group.

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