Rep. Chris Pappas leads bipartisan group to introduce legislation to protect our nation’s first responders

March 19, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH), Congressman Pete King (R-NY) Congressman David Trone (D-MD), Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D-PA), and Congressman Max Rose (D-NY) introduced bipartisan legislation to increase protections for first responders on the front lines of our nation’s opioid epidemic. The Insurance Fairness for First Responders Act of 2019 (H.R. 1832) prevents life insurers from denying applications of first responders who have accessed naloxone, a rapid response treatment that can reverse opioid overdoses, through a standing order. 

“The first responders on the front lines of this epidemic don’t deserve to be punished because of the work they do,” said Congressman Pappas (D-NH). “Preventing these dedicated public servants from obtaining life insurance is a great injustice. That is why I’m proud to help introduce the Insurance Fairness for First Responders Act, which prevents first responders who are equipped with Narcan from being taken advantage of by insurance companies. It is essential that we all do our part to support firefighters, police officers, and first responders across New Hampshire and around this country who are doing the hard and necessary work to end this crisis and keep our communities safe.”  

“It defies common sense to punish those on the front line who are responding to an epidemic certainly not of their making,” said Congressman Peter King (R-NY). “I am proud to support this legislation which will ensure the protection and well being of our nation’s first responders.”

“Punishing first responders who carry naloxone is backwards and wrong,” said Congressman David Trone (D-MD), founder of the Freshmen Working Group on Addiction, a bipartisan effort to combat the country’s addiction crisis that includes Members from more than half of the freshmen class. “I lost my 24 year-old nephew Ian to a fentanyl overdose, and I know how much pain this can cause a family. That’s why we should be increasing access to naloxone -- which has saved so many lives in this epidemic -- not punishing the first responders who carry it.”

“First responders are doing heroic work to confront the opioid epidemic and provide life-saving care.” said Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D-PA). “They shouldn’t also have to worry about increases in their insurance premiums – and this legislation will ensure that they don’t.” 

“We need all hands on deck, because the opioid epidemic does not discriminate based on color, class, age or gender,” said Congressman Max Rose (D-NY). “But we’ve seen first-hand that naloxone saves lives, so the last thing that should be happening is insurance companies punishing the first responders and good Samaritans answering the call to help.”

“Firefighters constantly put themselves in harm’s way, making life insurance that much more important for our members’ families,” said Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire President Bill McQuillen. “Nurses and healthcare providers face similar challenges. We see Narcan as a tool for saving people’s lives in the midst of an opioid crisis that is impacting families across this state. We should never have to choose between keeping the tools we need to save lives and making sure our family is taken care of. This law needs to change because our families should not be penalized for our hard work on the front lines.  ”                                                                                                                                         

"Nurses and health care workers are on the front lines fighting the opioid epidemic,” said New Hampshire Nurses Association Executive Director Joan Widmer. Carrying naloxone allows them to save lives when they get to the scene and we must ensure health care workers have the protections this bill will provide."

Background: Increased access to naloxone, commonly in the forms of Narcan and Evzio, has been critical in combating the opioid epidemic sweeping our nation. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have taken steps to promote access through the widespread use of standing orders, which allow first responders and healthcare providers to carry and dispense this lifesaving treatment. Unfortunately, insurance companies have leveraged this to deny or increase life insurance premiums for those that have accessed standing orders. The Insurance Fairness for First Responders Act of 2019 directs the Secretary of the Treasury to issue regulations that would prevent life insurers from denying applications or raising premiums for first responders and medical professionals who have accessed naloxone through a standing order.