House to Vote on Epi Pen Bill (Oppose HR 2094)

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You'll recall that last Congress, AASA worked to defeat S 1884, the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. We called it the Epi Pen bill and opposed the bill, for four key reasons:

  1. Questioning the need for federal policy: AASA questions the need for federal policy in an area where state and local agencies often already have the policies on the book. AASA believes there are stronger roles for the federal government to play in education than creating redundant policy. Rather, state and local education agencies should be left to fully implement existing policies that meet the needs of students and staff as it relates to a healthful environment.
  2. Impact on Asthma Grants: AASA was introgued by the priority being given to grants related to asthma-related programs. AASA is concerned that this new 'priority' could jeopardize grant funding for current and new recipients who may be in a state that does not have existing policy.  
  3. Cost: AASA is concerned by the cost implications for schools. Epi pens are expensive and require updating/replacement. Further, given the variety of student body size, schools would have to stockpile a number of different doses. This is expensive and burdensome. AASA applauds the focus on getting epi pens administered to children in need as soon as possible, but believes the smarter approach is to place them with first responders, rather than in schools.
  4. Liability: AASA is concerned by the liability implications. While good samaritan laws may be on the books and could (Arguably) protect well-intentioned personnel, does good samaritan unilaterally apply to employed individuals (beyond the random volunteer/samaritan)?
    1. Legislation for this Congress (HR 2094) uses a different approach to ensure liability, relying on the state attorney general to verify that the personnel are 'covered'. What happens in those states that have policy and it is not deemed 'coverage'?
    2. Further, even with coverage, AASA is concerned with the precedent of having school-based non-medical (trained) personnel administering a prescription drug to a child for whom the drug was not prescribed. This is especially troubling in those instances where it is direct conflict with existing state/local policies related to administering even over-the-counter medications like sun block and ibuprofen. This is--and should remain--a state and local issue.

To that end, Congress (the House, in particular) is slated to vote TOMORROW on HR 2094. Call your Representative today and urge them to vote NO on the bill. AASA supports strong, local/state policy as it relates to epi pens and is concerned that this bill is redundant, costly, and would create more obstacles than it resolves.

Political Considerations: There is momentum behind this bill. It is easy for a representative to be sympathetic; each state has an instance where a child benefitted from an epi pen bill. Further, this is a feel-good bill that is bipartisan in nature. It would represent something the House could tout as 'bipartisan'. 'Bipartisan' because it is easy and feel good does not make good policy, and the fact remains that while each state has a child who could be the poster child for epi pen policy, the fact remains that cost analysis of a federal requirement to such an extent would likely be more burdensome than beneficial. Allow state and local agencies to work with local health professionals and first responders to determine what is right for their district and community.

 


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