In an atmosphere of contentious political in-fighting, a bill to fight the growing opioid epidemic was passed by the house in September. The bipartisan bill passed with an almost unanimous vote of 393-8. The bill will be sent to the Senate where it should pass easily then reach the President’s desk for his signature.
The bill targets a range of different measures to counter the opioid crisis. This is a true crisis throughout the United States and every community, large to small is affected. In 2016 opioids killed 42,000 people.
The bill will lift current restrictions within Medicaid. Medicaid restricts payments for patient care at addiction treatment facilities. The ability for Medicaid to pay for treatment will greatly help low-income population who are hit hard by opioids.
Also, opioids often enter the United States today by import through international mail order. New enforcement will be established to crack down on this practice.
Nurse Practitioners can write a limited number of prescriptions today without doctor approval. One prescription they are not allowed to write is buprenorphine. This drug is used in addiction but not widely distributed because of restrictions. This legislation lifts those restrictions.
Lawmakers across the political spectrum seems determined to fight this battle. This legislation comes after a government bill increased funding for opioid issues up to to $3.8 Billion. It was helpful this bill came forward as well during mid-term elections. Many legislators in both parties running for re-election openly supported this bill and helped move it forward through committee.
Speaker of the House Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said, “If this legislation can save one life, bring help to one person, that is what matters. It’s going to do far more than that.”
Leading Democrat leader Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey stated, “This bill is an important step, but we must do a lot more. The opioid crisis continues to get worse, a lot more needs to be done to provide treatment and expand the treatment infrastructure.”