The Senate Sept. 17 passed the Opioid Crisis Response Act, a substitute amendment to the House-passed opioid package (H.R. 6). Among other provisions, the Senate package would reauthorize funding to states to address opioid abuse; provide support through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to improve the interoperability of state prescription drug monitoring programs; and 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. The legislation also would 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; codify the increase in the number of MAT patients that qualified practitioners can treat to 275; and authorize $25 million in HHS grants to hospitals and other acute care settings to develop and implement alternative strategies to opioids for pain management.
The package next must be reconciled with the House-passed opioid package, which includes an AHA-supported provision that would allow states to receive federal Medicaid matching funds for up to 30 days per year for services provided to adults aged 21-64 for opioid and cocaine use disorder in an Institution for Mental Disease. The House also separately approved the AHA-supported bipartisan Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (H.R. 6082/S. 1850) that would align 42 CFR Part 2 regulations with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act to allow health care providers to responsibly share substance use disorder treatment information.
“We are encouraged that the Senate … passed legislation containing several provisions that will help hospitals continue to fight this epidemic,” said AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels. “…However, we are extremely disappointed that the Senate failed to include in its legislation two provisions that would expand access to treatment and improve the coordination and safety of care,” he said, citing H.R. 6082/S. 1850 and legislation to address the IMD exclusion. “As Congressional leaders work to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions, America’s hospitals and health systems strongly urge them to ensure that the final product includes the House-passed Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act and fix the IMD exclusion. We will continue to work with Congress to ensure we have the tools needed to respond to this multi-faceted epidemic that is impacting virtually every community in our nation, and we look forward to enactment of comprehensive legislation that addresses these key priorities.”