The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today voted 23-0 to approve its bipartisan legislation to address the opioid crisis. The Opioid Crisis Response Act (S. 2680), authored by Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), would reauthorize funding to states to address opioid abuse, and provide support through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to improve the interoperability of state prescription drug monitoring programs. The bill also would authorize grants to create comprehensive opioid recovery centers, implement state safe care plans for substance-exposed infants, and make certain health professionals providing substance use disorder treatment services eligible for federal loan repayment programs, among other provisions. The committee approved by voice vote an amendment by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) to authorize $24 million in Department of Health and Human Services grants to medical schools and teaching hospitals over the next six years to support medication-assisted treatment training; an amendment by Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Hassan to codify the increase from 100 to 275 in the number of MAT patients that qualified practitioners can treat; and an amendment by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) to authorize HHS grants totaling $25 million to hospitals and other acute care settings over the next five years to develop and implement strategies on alternatives to opioids for pain management. An amendment by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) to grant the Department of Labor increased authority to enforce mental health parity requirements and an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to double funding for the National Health Service Corps were defeated on party-line votes. A second Sanders amendment to establish civil and criminal penalties for pharmaceutical companies for illegal marketing and distribution of opioid products was defeated by a roll call vote of 8-15. In other action today, the committee approved by voice vote the Children’s Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2018 (S. 2597), AHA-supported legislation that would reauthorize the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education program for an additional five years and fund the program annually at $330 million. 
 

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