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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Expanding Opportunities for Recovery Act Introduced

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Congressmen Bill Foster (D-IL) and Sean Maloney (D-NY) have introduced legislation to increase low-income and uninsured patients’ access to inpatient rehabilitation services for heroin and other opioid abuse.

The Expanding Opportunities for Recovery Act (H.R. 5339) would establish a grant program under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in which states may use grant funds to provide residential or inpatient opioid addiction treatment for qualified individuals.

For an individual to qualify, they must either lack health insurance or have health insurance that imposes barriers on inpatient treatment, such as limitations on duration of the service or requirements that other treatment options be exhausted first. Qualified individuals would be able to receive up to 60 consecutive days of treatment under this grant program. The bill notes that care provided under the grants must be evidence-based, clinically appropriate, and may include medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders.

The bill authors noted in a statement accompanying the legislation that “while in-patient rehabilitation is a proven effective treatment for opioid abuse, many people lack health insurance and are unable to afford such treatment. In addition, many insurance providers require patients to exhaust other options, like out-patient treatment and counseling, before they will cover in-patient rehabilitation. These obstacles prevent opioid abusers from receiving the treatment they need to enter recovery.”

H.R. 5339 is cosponsored by Representatives Elizabeth Esty (D-CA), Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH). Additional details are available in the bill text.