House Passes Final Opioid Package
After months of work on the topic, the House of Representatives last Friday passed a wide-ranging package of legislation aimed at addressing various facets of the opioid crisis. The bipartisan Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities (SUPPORT) Act (H.R. 6) combines 58 individual previously-passed bills that focus on topics ranging from expanding access to opioid addiction treatment to encouraging the adoption of alternative forms of pain management and more. Attention now turns to the Senate as legislators are building their own version of an opioid package, which will need to be reconciled with the House version before being signed into law by the president.
Read More on House Passes Final Opioid Package
SAMHSA Releases $1 Billion in Opioid Grant Applications
Congress’ investment of $1 billion for opioid addiction services is now available for states to access through a grant application with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA). This funding was allocated in the recent omnibus budget agreement and is in addition to the $500 million provided in the Opioid State Targeted Response (Opioid STR) grants for FY 2018. State agencies will have until August 13th to submit an application to SAMHSA detailing how they will use the funds to support current state efforts to combat opioid abuse. While providers cannot apply for the funds directly, they should engage with their state officials to discuss addiction services that could be strengthened in their community.
Read More on SAMHSA Releases $1 Billion in Opioid Grant Applications
National Loan Forgiveness Program Expands to Include SUD Sites
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is currently accepting provider applications to become a National Health Service Corps (NHSC)-approved site. New this year, the NHSC has added addiction treatment facilities to the list of eligible sites for loan forgiveness, providing an incentive for professionals to seek jobs at these facilities. This move represents a change to the NHSC program that the National Council has been advocating for on behalf of its members. The NHSC provides loan forgiveness to over 10,000 eligible health care professionals across the country in exchange for their service in underserved communities.
Read More on National Loan Forgiveness Program Expands to Include SUD Sites
House Sends More Opioid Bills to the Senate
The House of Representatives this week picked up where it left off in its efforts to advance legislation to address the opioid crisis. The latest House-passed bills will be combined with those that were passed last week to create a comprehensive package for the Senate to consider. Bills that advanced this week include some controversial measures to loosen the Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) rule and 42 CFR Part 2, which governs the privacy of substance use treatment records. Other measures that passed related to the expansion of parity protection, and prevention, treatment, and recovery for opioid use disorders.
Read More on House Sends More Opioid Bills to the Senate
SAMHSA Announces Grant Opportunity for Medication-Assisted Treatment
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a funding opportunity for nonprofit organizations, including community mental health and addiction treatment providers, in certain states and tribal communities to improve access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), a highly effective, evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD). Eligible organizations wishing to compete for up to almost $525,000 per year must submit their applications by July 9th.
Read More on SAMHSA Announces Grant Opportunity for Medication-Assisted Treatment
House Committee Sends Opioid Package to House Floor
On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee reviewed remaining opioid legislation to be included in a large package aimed at addressing the opioid crisis, an effort which began last week in the full Committee. The Committee approved 32 bills, a week after approving another 25 opioid measures, bringing the total up to 57. Bills that advanced this week include provisions to loosen both the Institution for Mental Disease (IMD) rule on residential substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and privacy rules governing SUD treatment records, promote best practices for recovery housing and to ensure mental health and SUD parity in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Read More on House Committee Sends Opioid Package to House Floor
House Committee Continues Work on Opioid Package
On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held its first of two hearings to consider a large package of legislation aimed at addressing the opioid crisis. The full Committee approved 25 of the 56 bills that had advanced from the Health Subcommittee, and is slated to review the remaining legislation next week with the hopes of advancing a comprehensive package to the House floor by Memorial Day. Bills that advanced this week included efforts to expand: telemedicine prescribing for medication-assisted treatment, student loan forgiveness for addiction treatment professionals and use of electronic health records by behavioral health providers.
Read More on House Committee Continues Work on Opioid Package
National Council Releases First-Ever Recovery Housing Guide for States
On Monday, April 23, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing published the first-ever policy guide for expanding quality recovery housing entitled Building Recovery: State Policy Guide for Supporting Recovery Housing. It calls on states to adopt recovery housing quality standards, establish a certification program and support recovery residences as they work to meet nationally-recognized standards. In the guide, the National Council recommends concrete policies and practices that policymakers can enact to strengthen the road to recovery from addiction.
Read More on National Council Releases First-Ever Recovery Housing Guide for States
President Trump Announces Opioid Crisis Response Plan
On Monday, President Trump unveiled his plan to put a stop to the opioid epidemic that claims thousands of American lives every year. The President’s plan addresses multiple contributing factors including: reducing over-prescribing of opioid pain killers, cutting off illicit drug supplies, improving access to evidence-based treatment and recovery services, and ramping up prevention efforts. It is unclear whether Congress will appropriate funding for these initiatives, as both chambers are currently considering their own strategies.
Read More on President Trump Announces Opioid Crisis Response Plan
House Committee Holds Hearing on Opioid Epidemic Response
The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee convened a hearing on potential solutions to address the opioid epidemic on Wednesday. The hearing featured testimony from National Council member, Richard Nance, who presented recommendations for improving access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), the gold standard of opioid addiction treatment, via telemedicine. The hearing was the first of three hearings devoted to crafting a broad legislative package to curb the use of prescription and illicit opioids.
Read More on House Committee Holds Hearing on Opioid Epidemic Response
Medicaid Work Requirements to be Enacted in Indiana
Indiana is now the second state to receive approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for a waiver request that imposes work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries to maintain coverage. Indiana’s Section 1115 waiver also enacts a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Program which will include coverage for residential treatment in Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) and will increase premiums for beneficiaries who use tobacco and are not engaged in tobacco cessation activities. The National Council for Mental Wellbeing strongly opposes work requirements and any attempts to restrict access to needed behavioral health services.
Read More on Medicaid Work Requirements to be Enacted in Indiana
ONDCP Could See 95% Budget Cut
The White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) faces a second threat of losing 95 percent of its budget under President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 proposal, according to Politico. Defunding ONDCP would directly contradict the Administration’s declaration of the opioid crisis as a public health emergency, as the office is responsible for coordinating the federal response to the crisis. The National Council opposes this proposal, and will continue to work to ensure proper funding for this important office.
Read More on ONDCP Could See 95% Budget Cut
Opioid Use among Teens at Historic Low with Vaping and Marijuana on the Rise
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released its annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey results highlighting historic lows of cigarette, heroin and methamphetamine use and increases in vaping and marijuana use among adolescents. The study surveyed over 47,000 students in 8th, 10th and 12th grade in both public and private schools nationwide on their substance use and attitudes towards particular drugs.
Read More on Opioid Use among Teens at Historic Low with Vaping and Marijuana on the Rise
HHS Updates HIPAA Guidance, Highlights Responses to Opioid Epidemic
On Monday, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rolled out a bundle of new resources and initiatives that aim to address the ongoing opioid crisis. These new tools and initiatives are part of an obligation under the 21st Century Cures Act to ensure that the public understands the implications of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Read More on HHS Updates HIPAA Guidance, Highlights Responses to Opioid Epidemic
Congressional Briefing Highlights Medicaid’s Role in Addiction Treatment
On Wednesday, the Partnership for Medicaid, a coalition that includes the National Council, hosted a Congressional briefing on the importance of Medicaid in supporting innovative addiction care. The day’s discussion focused on how Medicaid provides individuals with substance use disorders access to comprehensive care that not only addresses their addiction, but their physical and mental health needs. The briefing featured testimony from National Council member Mark Miller of Swope Health Services, who highlighted how Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) are leading the way in behavioral health care innovation and expanding access to addiction treatment.
Read More on Congressional Briefing Highlights Medicaid’s Role in Addiction Treatment
House Bill Aims to Increase Transparency, Research On Effective Opioid Crisis Responses
Last week, Representative Bob Latta (R-OH), along with three Republican cosponsors, introduced a bill that would create a public electronic database of information and strategies to combat the opioid crisis. The Indexing Narcotics, Fentanyl and Opioids (INFO) Act (H.R. 4284) would create a position of Federal Coordinator within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to oversee the implementation and coordination of this public database in partnership with other government agencies.
Read More on House Bill Aims to Increase Transparency, Research On Effective Opioid Crisis Responses
National Council Joins Commitment to Improve Access and Quality of Addiction Treatment
On Wednesday, 16 health care payers representing more than 245 million lives adopted eight National Principles of Care for the treatment of addiction. As a result, the payers have agreed to identify, promote and reward substance use disorder treatment that aligns with the National Principles of Care. The principles emphasize universal screening, personalized treatment planning and access to evidence-based treatment and recovery support services. This initiative is part of the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Task Force, launched in April 2017 by Shatterproof and includes the National Council as a member.
Read More on National Council Joins Commitment to Improve Access and Quality of Addiction Treatment
House Bill Seeks to Increase Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment
In September, Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced a bill that would expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorders. The Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act (H.R.3692) would allow new provider types to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication utilized in MAT, and would increase the number of patients that qualified physicians could treat.
Read More on House Bill Seeks to Increase Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment
CMS Issues New Guidance on Waivers of IMD Rule
On Thursday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a letter to State Medicaid Directors outlining a new waiver process to allow Medicaid payment of a broad range of services for opioid and other substance use disorders (SUD), including residential treatment. The letter, issued in response to President Trump’s declaration of an opioid public health emergency, promises states a “more flexible, streamlined” 1115 Medicaid waiver approval process to accelerate state’s ability to respond to the opioid epidemic. While this move could present an opportunity for states to expand their continuum of care for addiction, strict budget neutrality requirements and heightened state reporting requirements may prove too burdensome for states to realistically pursue this option.
Read More on CMS Issues New Guidance on Waivers of IMD Rule
Senate Democrats Introduce Bill to Combat Opioid Crisis
Last week, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the “Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act.” The bill calls for Congress to invest $45 billion toward prevention, detection, surveillance, and treatment of opioid addiction. This legislation seeks to combat an epidemic that took the lives of over 33,000 Americans in 2015. The National Council applauds the Senators for their leadership on this issue, and looks forward to supporting their efforts to see this bill through Congress.
Read More on Senate Democrats Introduce Bill to Combat Opioid Crisis