Alexander: 5 Ways “Landmark” Opioids Bill will Help Tennesseans

Posted on September 28, 2018

WASHINGTON, September 27, 2018 — United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the opioid bill he sponsored, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called “landmark legislation,” is one step away from becoming law after the U.S. House of Representatives passed it 393 to 8. The Senate will now need to pass this consensus legislation before it can go to the president for his signature.

“Here are 5 specific ways this bill will help Tennesseans: It will help reduce the influx of deadly illegal drugs at the border, like fentanyl, extend support for Medicaid patients seeking treatment for substance use disorders from 15 to 30 days, help increase services for babies born in opioid withdrawal, help our state reach out and intervene early in the lives of Tennessee children who have experienced trauma, and speed up the development of new non-addictive painkillers.”

Alexander added, “There are 100 million Americans living with some pain, and there are 25 million who really hurt because they have chronic pain -- they need help, and we need more effective medicines and treatments for pain. A non-addictive painkiller could really be the ‘Holy Grail’ of solving the opioid crisis.”

“Last year, more Tennesseans died from opioid overdoses than were killed in car crashes. The opioid crisis is ravaging our Tennessee communities, and Congress has taken a big step to help Tennessee fight back,” Alexander concluded. “Congress is also backing up important policies like these with federal dollars--$8.5 billion has been appropriated for fighting the opioid crisis since March.” 

The legislation 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.

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

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.