Posted on September 28, 2018
WASHINGTON, September 27, 2018 — The House of Representatives today passed by a vote of 393 to 8 “The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018” sponsored by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has called it “landmark” opioids legislation.
“This legislation represents the work of 8 committees in the House and 5 committees in the Senate who have worked together to reach consensus about how to help address the opioid crisis which is affecting virtually every American community,” said Alexander, who is Chairman of the Senate health committee.
The “landmark” SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act is the product of bipartisan bills that passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 396-14 in June and the Senate by a vote of 99-1 earlier this month. The Senate will now need to pass this consensus legislation before it can go to the President for his signature.
Alexander continued: “The consensus legislation includes the STOP Act to help stop the shipment of synthetic opioids, extends support for Medicaid patients seeking treatment from 15 to 30 days, covering all substance use disorders, and permanently allows more medical professionals to treat people in recovery to prevent relapse and overdoses. The bill also allows the FDA to require prescription opioids to be packaged in set amounts like a 3 or 7 day supply in blister packs, and will help spur the development of a non-addictive painkiller. There is bipartisan urgency for the Senate to now pass this consensus legislation so the President can sign it as soon as possible.”
Separately, Congress has appropriated $8.5 billion this year towards fighting the opioid crisis, after the FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill Congress passed in March included $4.7 billion to fight the opioid crisis and the FY2019 Health and Human Services Appropriations bill Congress passed in September included $3.8 billion to fight the crisis. The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act will help states and communities use these funds to better address the opioid crisis.
Below are 10 key provisions of this legislation:
1. STOP Act—to stop illegal drugs, including fentanyl, at the border
2. New non-addictive painkillers, research and fast-track
3. Blister packs for opioids, such as a 3 or 7 day supply
4. Extends support for Medicaid patients seeking treatment from 15 to 30 days, covering all substance use disorders
5. TREAT Act—permanently allows more medical professionals to treat people in recovery to prevent relapse and overdoses
6. Prevent “doctor-shopping” by improving state prescription drug monitoring programs
7. More behavioral and mental health providers
8. Support for comprehensive opioid recovery centers
9. Help for babies born in opioid withdrawal and for mothers with opioid use disorders
10. More early intervention with vulnerable children who have experienced trauma