So far this year on Capitol Hill, there’s been a lot of talk about solutions to our country’s unprecedented overdose epidemic. It’s long past time for action. Here’s an update on where we stand with federal addiction initiatives in 2018.
Earlier this week, the White House announced a new set of initiatives aimed at reducing demand for opioids, cutting off the supply of illicit substances, and expanding and improving treatment options. While many of the recommendations are generally positive, Shatterproof continues to urge policymakers to act more quickly on solutions that we know will work.
The House and Senate are also looking to take action in the coming months. Committees in both bodies will be holding hearings on a number of topics related to the opioid crisis, from the role of technology to state solutions to improving treatment options.
The House Energy & Commerce Committee is in the midst of a two-day legislative hearing to review 25 bills related to public health and treatment solutions. This is the second in a series of three legislative hearings for the Committee, leading to an anticipated markup in late April or early May. The full House plans to pass legislation before Memorial Day. Shatterproof supports a number of bills that will be discussed during the hearing, including:
H.R. 5272, Reinforcing Evidence-Based Standards Under Law in Treating Substance Abuse (RESULTS) Act: Only 1 in 10 Americans with a substance use disorder receives any treatment at all—and far fewer get treatment based on proven research. This bill would help change that. It requires entities applying for federal funding which will be used to support programs or activities that address mental health or substance use disorders to first demonstrate to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that the programs or activities are evidence-based.
H.R. 5176, Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms (POWER) Act: Right now, most people are released from an ER after an overdose with zero follow up or treatment plan. This bill requires HHS to develop Emergency Department discharge protocols post-overdose via pilot programs with 20 health care sites focused on evaluating and determining best practices.
H.R. 5002, Advancing Cutting-Edge (ACE) Research Act: Opioid overprescribing has fueled our country’s current crisis. This bill provides the National Institutes of Health with more authority to engage in innovative research to develop non-addictive pain medications.
H.R. 5102, Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act: There’s a huge need for more trained substance use disorder professionals in our healthcare system. This bill creates a student loan repayment program for medical professionals who provide substance use disorder treatment, including physicians, nurses and social workers.
The Senate is moving on a slower timeline than the House, but a number of bills have already been introduced, including CARA 2.0 from Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). CARA 2.0 includes a number of excellent provisions, including imposing a 3-day limit on opioid prescriptions for acute pain, improving access to medication-assisted treatment by permanently raising patient caps for nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and requiring prescribers and pharmacists to check their state prescription drug monitoring program.
As Congress continues to work on bills aimed at the opioid crisis, Shatterproof will be advocating for a comprehensive approach that focuses on what we can do now to help those who need evidence-based treatment, and how we can prevent others from becoming addicted in the first place. Stay tuned for updates and for ways to get involved.