Statement on Passage of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018


Tom Nickels

Executive Vice President

American Hospital Association


September 17, 2018


“America’s hospitals and health systems are on the front lines of the opioid crisis that is ravaging communities across the nation and costing nearly 150 American lives each day. We are encouraged that the Senate today passed legislation containing several provisions that will help hospitals continue to fight this epidemic.

The Opioid Crisis Response Act contains AHA-supported provisions to: increase research into non-addictive pain therapies; bolster hospitals’ efforts to manage pain with alternatives to opioids in emergency departments; improve strategies for neonatal abstinence syndrome; promote pain care education and awareness programs; expand the use of telehealth services to treat substance use disorders; educate Medicare beneficiaries about the risks of opioids; add an opioid use disorder screening benefit to Medicare; standardize electronic prior authorization for Part D prescriptions; identify and educate outlier prescribers; and establish best practices for prescribing controlled substances.

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. The bipartisan Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (H.R. 6082/S. 1850) would improve communication related to vital substance use disorder (SUD) treatment information. It passed the House overwhelmingly because it eliminates barriers to coordinated care for people with SUDs, while increasing penalties for inappropriate sharing of information and protecting those same patients from discrimination.

The Senate bill also fails to address the Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) exclusion, the law that prohibits states from using federal Medicaid funds for the care of patients 21-64 years old in residential mental health or SUD treatment facilities with more than 16 beds. The House passed bipartisan legislation to provide for up to 30 days per year for opioid and cocaine use disorder treatment services in an IMD.  

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 fixed 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.”



Arika Trim, (202) 626-2319

Marie Johnson, (202) 626-2351




About the American Hospital Association

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the improvement of health in their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks and other providers of care. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit