The Herald-Leader asked Congressman Hal Rogers whether he supported lifting the ban on federal funding for needle-exchange programs. His staff responded below.
"The abuse of prescription medications, which began in Chairman Rogers’ rural district over a decade ago, has tragically exploded onto the national scene and led CDC to characterize the problem as a national epidemic. As a long-time leader on this issue, Rogers is absolutely committed to reversing these alarming trends, which have fostered lawlessness and hopelessness among families for far too long. Since creating Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigation Treatment & Education) in 2003, he has advocated for a multi-faceted approach that puts drug pushers behind bars while helping those struggling with addiction to find treatment options. "As federal, state and local entities have coalesced around similar strategies to address this complex challenge, an unfortunate result has been that drug users in urban and rural communities alike have transitioned to injection drug use. States and localities have grappled with how to handle a drastic increase in related infections, such as Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS, that have coincided with this transition. The Chairman supports efforts in Kentucky and elsewhere to mitigate the spread of these devastating diseases and associated healthcare costs, but he also believes that the determination about whether to implement needle exchange programs remains a quintessentially local function. While he will continue to monitor the implementation of these programs and their impact, he continues to support the ban on the use of federal funds for needle exchange programs and intends to focus federal resources on education and treatment programs that support communities in their drive to end the cycle of dependency."