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  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
    IntroducedApril 16th, 2018

What is it?

This bill — the Opioid Crisis Response Act — would implement more than 70 bipartisan proposals aimed at stopping illegal drugs at the border, such as synthetic opioids, reduce over-prescription of opioids, and develop alternatives to opioids. A breakdown of of its provisions, including the major individual bills that were included along with Justice Department & Food and Drug Administration reforms, can be found below. (Note: The Senate is expected to amend H.R. 6 with this legislation before voting on it Monday, September 17th.)

Opioid Crisis Response Act

This section of the bill would reauthorize and extend funding for targeted opioid response grants to states that were created under the 21st Century Cures Act. It’d also provide funding for research into a new, non-addictive painkiller along with early warning signs or risk factors for substance use disorders. The Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) would be required to produce a report on the health effects of new psychoactive substances on adolescents and young adults.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations would be clarified to expedite approval non-addictive, non-opioid treatments for pain or addiction and provide manufacturers with assistance for designing clinical trials. The bill would also allow the FDA to require drug manufacturers to package certain opioids to allow for a small, set treatment — like a blister pack with a 3 or 7 day supply.

The FDA and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would enter into formal coordination around detecting and seizing illegal drugs, like the synthetic opioid fentanyl. The current practice of FDA providing packages with illegal opioids to CBP for destruction would be codified into law.

A grant program under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act that provides training for first responders to administer overdose reversal drugs like naloxone, along with training on safety around dangerous illicit drugs.

HHS would be required to provide technical assistance to hospitals and other acute care settings on alternatives to opioids, along with issuing best practices for emergency treatment of a known or suspected drug overdose and the coordination of care after overdoses.

A new grant program would be established to help individuals in recovery from a substance use disorder with stable, temporary housing.

HHS would be required periodically update strategies related to prenatal opioid use, including neonatal abstinence syndrome, and a grant program that funds treatment for pregnant and post-partum women would be reauthorized.

HHS and the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) would be required to report on the impact of federal and state laws and regulations that limit the length, quantity, or dosage of opioid prescriptions.

HEAL Act of 2018

This section would require that the annual “Medicare & You” handbook for Medicare beneficiaries include references to educational resources on opioid use and pain management, a description of categories of alternative, non-opioid Medicare-covered pain management treatments, and a suggestion that beneficiaries talk to their physicians about the subject. It’d also make the following changes to Medicare:

  • The Medicare Initial Preventive Physical Examination and annual wellness visits would include a review of the beneficiary’s current opioid prescriptions and screening for potential substance use disorder.

  • Opioid prescriptions under Medicare Part D would be prescribed electronically to improve tracking of opioid use and prevent diversion.

  • Beneficiaries with a history of opioid-related overdose would be monitored in the Medicare system to enable prescription drug plans to take steps that inform prescribers and dispensing pharmacies to improve care.

The following provisions of the bill would impact Medicaid:

  • States’ ability to provide care under Medicaid for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome in recovery centers would be clarified, as would those centers’ option to provide counseling or other services to mothers or caretakers.

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would issue a guidance to explain options for states to provide substance use disorder treatment via telehealth and managing beneficiaries’ pain through non-opioid treatment.

The following provisions of the bill would impact HHS:

  • HHS would be required to develop and issue guidance to states identifying opportunities to support family-focused residential substance abuse treatment programs.

  • HHS would replicate a “recovery coach” program for parents with children in foster care due to parental substance abuse with $15 million.

Other Provisions

A wide variety of anti-drug trafficking and substance abuse prevention programs within the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) would be reauthorized. DOJ would also be allowed to issue grants for drug disposal programs administered by collectors designated by the state for five years in at least five states, at least three of which would be chosen from states with low participation rates for drug take-back programs.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would be required to make anonymized information available in the ARCOS database to help drug manufacturers and distributors identify, report, and stop suspicious orders of opioid to reduce drug diversion. Civil and criminal penalties for drug manufacturers would be increased.

Other provisions include:

  • The Transportation Dept. would be directed to create regulations related to drug testing within the agency.

  • The Federal Trade Commission would be authorized to investigate false or misleading representations related to opioid treatment programs and products, violations of which would be civil offenses.

Impact

People affected by opioid addiction; healthcare providers; healthcare plans; and federal agencies.

Cost

The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would increase direct spending by $29 million over the 2019-2028 period.

More Information

In-Depth: Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced this package of more than 70 bipartisan bills aimed at curbing the epidemic of opioid abuse and said:

“This legislation represents the work of over 70 senators, five committees, and countless staff who have worked together to help put an end to the opioid epidemic ravaging virtually every American community. THe proposed bill includes the STOP Act to help stop illegal drugs at the border, including the shipment of synthetic opioids. It allows the FDA to require prescription opioids to be packaged in set amounts like a 3 or 7 day supply of blister packs, and spurs the development of a new non-addictive painkiller.”

This legislation passed the Senate HELP Committee unanimously and has the support of 18 bipartisan cosponsors, evenly divided between the two parties.


Of Note: According to data from our partners at USAFacts, a non-profit civic data initiative, the opioid epidemic resulted in 52,745 deaths from overdoses in 2016 alone compared to 21,204 deaths from non-opioid overdoses. Deaths from overdoses on synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have spiked in recent years, accounting for 19,413 of the overdose deaths in 2016 when they had never 3,5000 deaths in a year prior to 2014.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / busracavus)

AKA

Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018

Official Title

A bill to address the opioid crisis.

    I'm always afraid when politicians practice medical legislation. They are idiots and can't be trusted with decisions of this nature. Legalizing pot and NOT JAILING people addicted to opiods would help. The pendulum has already swung too far the other way, with many doctors refusing pain meds to people who really need them.
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    These mixed bag bill bundles are a hateful thing. Vote on stuff separately. There would be plenty of time if Congress did their job instead of spending all the time begging for money.
    Like (76)
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    Us chronic pain patients need meds and the government is trying to take them away
    Like (72)
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    People abuse alcohol but I don't see laws against that. People that live with pain and take meds for it usually are NOT the ones abusing it. Yes there are non addictive meds today. Most are like taking a baby aspirin for a severe migraine. Already the government has made patients start going once a month instead of every 3 months. You have to do drug screens and even be randomly called for pill count. I don't know about most people but THIS person hates feeling like a convict in order to have a decent quality of life. Why do ALL people on other meds not have to face all these laws due to others abusing them?
    Like (66)
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    What about indicting the Sacklers and other Pharma for lying about about addictive qualities when introduced to doctors and insurance companies?
    Like (56)
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    Leave it in states hands. The Federal government's history on the war on drugs proves it is incapable of any meaningful solutions. Some patients need their medications, the rest leave to natural selection.
    Like (22)
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    I am for some measure toward dealing with the opioid epidemic , however, in the articles I have read there is always one important variable left out, the chronic pain patient who became this way thru a possible disability. Quality of life becomes diminished and the ability to function is dependent upon a prescribed amount of medication. There are checks and balances in place already in pain management. Anything else is plain overkill.
    Like (19)
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    Not ready, those of us in chronic pain have to be considered.
    Like (19)
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    Any bill that will force those that need opioid drugs from getting them is a bad bill. There are so many restrictions now on opioids that most doctors are afraid to prescribe them. Even if you need the drugs to survive it is difficult to get them. People that need opioids after it’s been proven shouldn’t be harassed over and over to get them. Those that need the drugs for a small injury, one that isn’t life changing are the ones that need to be watched.
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    This better not go to the fucking wall. The drug epidemic is coming from prescription pain killers in America! Legalize pot already and people will choose that overwhelmingly.
    Like (16)
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    Countable commentors please check if your vote of yea or nay is correct because I’m seeing people commenting they voted yea regardless of the fact that their comments actually mean Nay!
    Like (12)
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    You are hurting chronic pain patients. It is an illegal drug problem not a legal prescription problem. Leave the decision up to the Doctors.
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    I believe this is wrong for several reasons. First- there are patients in excruciating pain. They should not be punished and tortured for the abuse by addictive personalities. Second- addicts will find a drug even if opioids are hard to come by. They will find another drug, make a drug, use alcohol, or sex, or food, or pain, or something never heard of before as a substitute. This country has proven that prohibition does not work. Humans have proven that one size fits all, cookie cutter approaches do not work.
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    sorry but why do I have to pay for people's inability to handle their drugs? I take opioids and you have to read the instruction pages! Just like anti choice people don't want to pay for abortions, I don't want to pay for this.
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    There is too much chance of slipping in something that voters do not want in a massive bill like this one!
    Like (8)
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    It is a mixed bag of provisions, some of which continue the failed War on Drugs approach, including penalizing users of painkillers. It should be less of a grab-bag of measures.
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    This bill is great, we should be looking at controlling what gets shipped in and mailed in BUT it's horrible in that it does not take in to account cancer patients, chronic and/or intractable pain patients with excruciating pain ALL the time. The only relief being prescription opioids to give any quality of life. Pill mills
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    While there is an opioid problem in our country that needs to be addressed, I’m worried that the “research into non-addictive alternatives” part of this bill will be abused by big-pharma. How do we know that the funds allocated won’t simply by used for a companies “research”. What we need is simple, individual laws tackling individual problems
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    Bills like these ALWAYS end with more people addicted, more people imprisoned for victimless crimes, and more people dead. Uncle Sam isn't a doctor, and every time he tries to enact medical legislation, people are hurt. Legalize drugs and handle drug problems with science and medicine.
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    I STRONGLY support this legislative package to address the opioid epidemic. As someone who has suffered through and defeated OUD, I wish that this legislation would do more to break down barriers to medication assisted treatment. Buprenorphine is a miracle medication for A LOT of recovering opioid and heroin addicts, and its needs to be more widely promoted as such. Many pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers, and insurance providers throw up arbitrary barriers to this treatment like bimonthly prior authorization or extra documentation. The medicine saves lives and stabilizes addicted and diseased minds. I am hard proof that buprenorphine gets an addict clean and makes them a productive and normal member of society again.
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