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Samantha Sears

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

Ways & Means Advances Bipartisan Opioid Proposals

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The House Committee on Ways & Means Wednesday approved seven bipartisan bills aimed at reducing opioid misuse and abuse in Medicare. The package would expand Medicare coverage of medication-assisted treatment (MAT), promote non-opioid alternatives for pain management and require Part D plans to have drug management plans for Medicare beneficiaries at risk of opioid addiction. The bills now move to the House floor, joining dozens of other opioid-related bills approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The bills advanced by the Committee include:

  • Medicare and Opioid Safe Treatment (MOST) Act (H.R. 5776) Would amend Medicare coverage to include all FDA-approved medications used in opioid treatment services such as methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. The bill would also include Opioid Treatment Programs (methadone clinics) as eligible Medicare providers.
  • Preventing Addiction for Susceptible Seniors (PASS) Act (H.R. 5773) Requires electronic prior authorization for prescription painkillers covered under the Medicare prescription drug benefit (known as Part D), and requires Medicare prescription drug plans to create drug management programs for seniors who are considered at risk of abuse.
  • Combatting Opioid Abuse for Care in Hospitals (COACH) Act (H.R. 5774) This bill requires Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a pain management and opioid use disorder prevention strategies plan for hospitals serving Medicare patients.
  • Providing Reliable Options for Patients and Educational Resources (PROPER) Act (H.R. 5775) Requires Medicare Advantage plans and Part D prescription drug plans to include information on the risks associated with prescription painkillers, and to educate patients about non-opioid options to treat pain.
  • Securing the International Mail Against Opioids Act of 2018 (H.R. 5788) Aims to prevent the shipping of synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil into the U.S., and requires anyone sending mail from foreign countries through the U.S. Postal Service to provide “package level detail information” to Customs and Border Protection.
  • Stop Excessive Narcotics in Our Retirement (SENIOR) Communities Protection Act (H.R. 5676) This bill would authorize the suspension of Medicare and Medicare Advantage prescription drug coverage payments to pharmacies suspected of fraud (including fraud involving opioids) pending the completion of an investigation.
  • Expanding Oversight of Opioid Prescribing and Payment Act (H.R. 5723) Requires the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to evaluate and report on adverse incentives that lead to the over prescription of opioids and underutilization of non-opioid alternatives for post-surgery recovery and the treatment of chronic pain.

The Ways and Means Committee action comes as a number of other House and Senate committees are working on opioid legislation. The House Energy and Commerce Committee also approved opioid-related measures this week. House leadership hopes to have a floor vote on an opioid package in June.