The House of Representatives has passed the most expansive legislation to date regarding the opioid crisis. The bill, titled the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act, combines 58 bills passed in the last two weeks that address opioid abuse. This bill will operate as the legislative vehicle to send a package of Medicaid, Medicare, and public health reforms to the Senate.
Provisions in the legislative package address a wide range of issues related to the crisis. For example, the bill adds a review of current opioid prescriptions and screening for opioid use disorder as part of the Welcome to Medicare initial examination. It also contains a measure known as Jessie’s Law, which requires the government to come up with guidelines for doctors and hospitals for displaying a patient’s addiction history to prevent relapse.
A key provision in the bill would allow Medicaid to pay for opioid or crack cocaine addiction treatment in certain inpatient facilities that treat mental illness. Another provision aims at reducing the trafficking of Chinese fentanyl into the United States. Coming up with opioid alternatives for pain treatment is also addressed in the legislation.
The 396-14 bipartisan passing of the bill underscored the reach and scope of the crisis on Capitol Hill. The opioid crisis is wreaking havoc in nearly every state and district across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were more than 63,600 overdose deaths in the United States in 2016 and 42,249 of those overdose deaths involved an opioid.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders praised the House for passing the bill. In a statement, she said, “These necessary bills will help save American lives through prevention and education, treatment and recovery, and law enforcement and interdiction. We look forward to continuing our work with Congress on a problem that affects everyone and that should be solved by everyone.” She then encouraged the Senate to follow suit, saying “We urge the Senate to continue the bipartisan tradition of helping Americans who are affected by the crisis, to swiftly pass the legislation from the House, and to get these lifesaving bills to the President’s desk.”