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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Opioid Conference Convenes, Makes Progress on Final Bill

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Members of the opioid conference committee continued efforts to finalize the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act this week. During discussions, members from both parties offered and withdrew amendments, making clear the two parties are working closely together to find common ground on a final CARA bill. Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Fred Upton (R-MI) noted at the conclusion of Wednesday’s meetings that a final version of the bill could be ready for consideration by the end of the week.

The National Council was disappointed to learn that the committee was unable to approve additional funding for this bill. Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), introduced separate amendments that would have made available more than $920 million in immediate funding for opioid prevention and treatment. Both amendments failed along party lines.

Additional outcomes of the convening include:

  • Expanding Prescriber Pool for Buprenorphine: Draft language in the conference report would expand the buprenorphine prescriber pool to include physician assistants and nurse practitioners, allowing these professionals to prescribe medication-assisted treatment under the same cap restrictions as other practitioners. SAMHSA recently finalized an increase to the patient cap to as much as 275 patients per practitioner. Read more on that here.   
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Program: The draft report also does not mandate the use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) for opioid program grants awarded to states. PDMPs have the potential to identify and take action to reduce inappropriate and illegal prescribing.

Want to Take Action and ask your Members of Congress to support the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act? Click here.