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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

House Panel Moves on Opioid Legislation

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On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee approved a dozen bills related to opioid abuse treatment, prevention and recovery supports. Speaking on the prospects for an opioid bill in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) indicated that while the House will take up several amendments related to opioid legislation, the final product will ultimately resemble the Senate’s measure, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.

The House will consider its version of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (H.R. 953) in addition to other related initiatives. As it stands, CARA would authorize federal grants to the states for increasing access to overdose drugs, training first responders and enhancing prescription drug monitoring programs. The Senate version that passed last month also included provisions to strengthen the Justice Department’s ability to fight drug trafficking, promote education on the dangers of prescription opioids, and prevent patients from being treated by multiple prescribers.

The dozen bills passed yesterday out of subcommittee touch on almost every facet of the opioid crisis. From veterans, to pregnant and postpartum women, to providers and prescribing practices, the individual bills together form the beginning of a comprehensive solution.

Of the dozen, the following were National Council supported measures:

  • The Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Expansion and Modernization Act, which increases prescriber patient limits while also allowing for qualified professionals such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners to use buprenorphine as part of their treatment regimen.
  • The Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act, which reauthorizes existing and creates new treatment service programs aimed at promoting coordinated, evidenced-based treatment services for mother and child.
  • The Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act, which creates training programs and co-prescribing guidelines for the distribution of opioid reversal medications like naloxone.

Should comprehensive legislation be approved by the House, any remaining differences would then be worked out by a conference committee made up of members of both the House and Senate. If and when that is completed, CARA would head the White House for review and approval by the President.