Posted on October 3, 2018
WASHINGTON, October 3, 2018 — The United States Senate today passed by a vote of 98-1, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, sponsored by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has called the bill, which is now heading to the President’s desk for his signature to become law, “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 and the lead sponsor of the legislation.
The 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 in September. The House passed the conference bill last week by a vote of 393-8.
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. Last year, more Tennesseans died from opioid overdoses than were killed in car crashes. The opioid crisis is hurting Tennessee communities, and I’m proud that Congress has come together to take this big step to help our communities fight back.”
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 the 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