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Your source for the latest updates from Capitol Hill. We translate policy into practice so you can learn how policy trends will affect your work and how best to prepare.

House Bill Aims to Amend 42 CFR Part 2

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Shelley Starkey

Project Assistant

Last Friday, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) introduced a bill that would change the way substance abuse treatment records are shared among providers. The bill, titled The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (H.R. 3545), aims to amend federal regulations related to substance use health records (42 CFR Part 2), which currently prohibit widespread sharing of patients’ addiction treatment history.

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NIDA Hosts Briefing on Prevention of Opioid Use Disorder

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Malka Berro

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

On Tuesday, July 25th, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, among other organizations, sponsored a Congressional briefing on preventing opioid use disorder (OUD) through community-based approaches. The panelists, ranging from prevention experts and scientists to prevention program administrators, underlined the urgency of utilizing substance use prevention to address the opioid crisis.

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State Officials Share Best Practices on Curbing Opioid Epidemic

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Shelley Starkey

Project Assistant

State officials testified before Congress last Wednesday to discuss their responses to the opioid epidemic, which claimed the lives of over 59,000 Americans in 2016. Officials from Rhode Island, Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky showcased their states’ successes in combating this crisis and identified needed supports from the federal government.

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National Council’s Dr. Parks Testifies at First Meeting of President’s Opioid Commission

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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and Opioid Crisis convened its first meeting last week, hearing testimony from national experts, including National Council Medical Director Dr. Joe Parks. Dr. Parks and others presented recommendations for effectively treating opioid addiction and expanding access to addiction services. Panelists also noted the significant role of Medicaid in paying for addiction and mental health treatments, citing concerns regarding proposed Medicaid cuts in the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

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NIH Announces New Science Initiative on Opioids

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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) last Wednesday announced a joint initiative with pharmaceutical companies to spur the development of drugs to address the opioid epidemic. It will start with a series of private workshops over the next six weeks and focus on three areas. Specifically, the initiative will focus on developing interventions for reversing opioid overdoses, discovering new treatments for opioid addiction, and seeking non-addictive treatments for chronic pain.

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HHS Announces $70 Million to Address Opioid Crisis

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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced the availability of over $70 million to help communities and health care providers treat opioid addiction with three new grant opportunities. The grants are directed to train first responders in overdose reversal procedures; expand access to medication-assisted treatment; and expand access to overdose reversal medications like naloxone. These initiatives are funded through Congress’s recently passed omnibus spending package for FY2017.

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White House Announces New Members to Opioid Commission

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

The White House has named four new members to President Trump’s commission on fighting opioid addiction. The commission, led by Jared Kushner and Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), was created back in March to tackle and combat the nation’s ongoing opioid addiction and overdose crisis. The new members include two governors, a former congressman in recovery and an addiction researcher.

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Breaking Addiction Act Reintroduced in Congress

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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Legislation to expand Medicaid patients’ access to residential substance use treatment has been introduced in the House by a group of Ohio lawmakers. The Breaking Addiction Act of 2017 would allow state Medicaid programs to cover residential addiction treatment in facilities of 16 or more beds. The bill is intended to help states build more capacity for addiction treatment as they work to address the opioid crisis.

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Budget Deal Passes Congress, Increases Funding for SAMHSA, NIH

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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Over the weekend, Congress reached a $ 1.1 trillion omnibus budget deal that will fund the government through the end of the 2017 fiscal year. Contrary to President Trump’s proposed budget, funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is set to increase and the legislation adds more money for efforts to combat opioid addiction. The measure was passed quickly this week by both the House and Senate in order to meet federal government’s May 5 funding deadline.

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APA, ASAM Host Congressional Briefing on Opioid Crisis

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Shelley Starkey

Behavioral Health Policy and Practice Intern

Last Thursday, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) partnered with the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) to host a Congressional briefing addressing the current opioid epidemic, which took the lives of over 33,000 Americans in 2015. The briefing gathered researchers, practitioners, and individuals whose lives have been affected by opioid abuse to give their personal and professional insights on the crisis. The discussion focused on the importance of acknowledging opioid addiction as a medical problem, understanding treatment options, fighting negative perceptions about individuals with addiction, and increasing funding for effective treatment programs.

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New Senate Bill Mandates Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Rob Portman (R-OH) have introduced legislation mandating the creation and use of strict prescription drug monitoring programs by states who receive federal funding to fight opioid abuse. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Act would require states to require pharmacies to submit data within 24 hours of filling a prescription. Providers would have to check the PDMP before each prescription of the drugs, and PDMPs would have to notify providers when patients showed worrisome opioid prescription patterns.

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President Trump Announces White House Efforts on Opioid Addiction

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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

On the campaign trail, President Trump vowed to help communities heavily impacted by opioid and heroin addiction. This week his administration took the first steps towards developing a national strategy on drug addiction by announcing the creation of a new White House commission on opioid addiction and naming a new acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

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SAMHSA Releases Opioid Crisis Grant Applications

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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Congress’ investment of $500 million 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). State agencies will have until February 17 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.

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Climbing Opioid Overdose Deaths Show Urgent Need for Treatment

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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths from prescription and illicit opioids increased to 33,091 in 2015. The report details the cause of overdose deaths, providing insight as to the prevalent issue areas in the nation’s addiction epidemic. For instance, the increase in 2015 was largely driven by overdose deaths involving heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Read more for a summary of the report.

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Congress Reaches Deal on Opioid Funding, Mental Health

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Stephanie Pellitt

Associate, Policy and Advocacy

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the 21st Century Cures Act – a medical research and innovation bill that includes important funding for addictions. The bill authorizes $1 billion over the next two years to address the opioid crisis, and would create and reauthorize a number of federal mental health grant programs. The Senate is set to consider the bill early next week.

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SAMHSA Finalizes Reporting Requirements on Medication-Assisted Treatment

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

Last month, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) finalized its rule detailing annual reporting requirements for prescribers of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Earlier this year, SAMHSA increased the patient cap for MAT up to 275 patients per physician. The final rule outlines specific reporting requirements necessary to treat patients at this higher limit, including: annual caseload of patients by month, number of patients provided or referred to behavioral health services, and the features of the physicians’ diversion control plan.

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Congress Passes Short-term Budget, Includes CARA Funding

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

On Wednesday, both chambers of Congress approved a short-term continuing budget resolution (CR), level-funding the federal government through the November elections. While political observers widely expected the passage of a CR, this resolution pleasantly surprised many advocates by containing $37 million dollars in additional money to begin funding implementation of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). The bill will provide $7 million of that allotment on October 1, which is the prorated amount of total funding over the life of the short-term resolution.

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New House Bill Aims to Curb Youth Opioid Use

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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Earlier this month, Congresswomen Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-IN) introduced legislation to help youth with opioid use disorders connect to addiction treatment services. The Youth Opioid Use Treatment Help Act (H.R. 5956) or YOUTH Act authorizes $5 million in grants for medication assisted treatment (MAT) programs that serve children, adolescents, and young adults, and includes “young adults” as eligible recipients of youth substance use services under the Public Health Service Act.

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Congress is Back, Funding Debate Takes Center Stage

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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

With a potential government shutdown looming on October 1, legislators from both sides of the aisle returned to DC this week ready for a fight on funding for Fiscal Year 2017. As Capitol Connector has reported in the past, both chambers of Congress have made slow progress on finalizing appropriations for FY2017, making a short-term, omnibus spending package the most likely path forward. With just over three weeks until the Oct. 1 deadline, party leaders are stuck on not only the funding levels of any spending package, but the length of that spending package as well.

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Obama Administration Awards Money to Fight Opioids, Fund PDMPs

September 1, 2016 | Opioid and Heroin Epidemic | Comments
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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced the allocation of new grant funding to fight the nation’s growing opioid use and abuse epidemic. $53 million will be shared across 44 states and the District of Columbia to expand access to treatment, enhance data collection and curb abuse of opioid across the country. These grants will fund prescriber training and education, increase access to medication-assisted treatment and increase the prevalence of opioid overdose medications like Naloxone.

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