House of Representatives Begins Voting on Opioid Bills
The House of Representatives returned to session this week and began approving a number opioid-related measures. While the Senate passed a single bill in March – the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524) – the House has taken a piecemeal approach passing over a dozen bills, covering a spectrum of opioid use prevention, treatment and recovery.
This week, the House has already approved a number of bills, including:
- 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. This legislation is supported by the National Council.
- The Reducing Unused Medications Act which allows for certain the partial filling of prescriptions for opioid painkillers and similar drugs in an effort to reduce the volume of unused opioid medications.
- The Promoting Responsible Opioid Management and Incorporating Scientific Expertise (PROMISE) Act, which requires the Veterans Affairs Department to increase the availability of opioid overdose medications like naloxone. Additionally, the bill requires pain management education and training for all prescribers within the VA system.
- The Opioid Program Evaluation (OPEN) Act, which requires federal agencies to work with the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate the effectiveness of federal grant programs designed to alleviate the opioid epidemic.
- Improving Safe Care for the Prevention of Infant Abuse and Neglect Act which requires HHS to distribute information about how to care for infants born affected by illegal substance abuse.
- Good Samaritan Assessment Act which requires a GAO study of state and local Good Samaritan laws that protect from criminal and civil liability caregivers, law enforcement personnel, and first responders who administer opioid overdose reversal drugs or devices, as well as those who contact emergency service providers in response to an overdose.
House action on opioid legislation is fluid and ongoing. At the time of this writing, the chamber is considering and working to approve a number of additional measures. The National Council will continue updating its members on important developments on the Capitol Connector blog.
To help advocates keep track of action in Congress, the Addiction Policy Forum, of which the National Council is a member, has created this infographic outlining the key elements of the House opioid package. The infographic illustrates the breadth of bills being considered.