STATE OF AFFAIRS: Addiction Bills to Watch This Legislative Session
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (January 9, 2017) – The United States is strategizing to combat one of the largest epidemics of our time: Addiction. Vertava Health has been exploring money in politics as data from 2016 is released. Here are some bills that could resurface this legislative session. How do you feel about them and why? Tell us. We want to hear from you.
Do Best Practices for Prescribing Opioid Pain Medications Need to be Updated?
House Bill HR4641, which passed the House last year and is now headed to the Senate, would establish a task force to develop best practices for the use of prescription opioids. Those in favor of the bill say best practices for prescribing opioid pain medications help save lives from addiction or overdose. Those opposed say there needs to be a way to ensure that doctors and pharmacists are in compliance with these best practices after they’re published, and this bill doesn’t do anything to that end. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that implementing the bill would cost $2 million over the 2016-2021 period. Sponsoring Representative Susan Brooks (R-IN) says she introduced the bill to get policy makers, medical professionals and current or recovering patients to collaboratively develop best practices for prescribing pain medication. “We lose 78 Americans each day to opioid overdose,” says Representative Brooks. “We have to act now to stem the tide of opioid use in this country, and it starts with giving prescribers, law enforcement, treatment professionals and communities the tools they need to prevent opioid use, treat substance use and addiction, and prevent illegal drugs from being bought and sold.” The bill was received in the Senate, read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in May. For more information surrounding the bill, click here. To read the text of the bill in its entirety, click here.
Helping States Coordinate Care for Babies Suffering from Drug or Alcohol Addiction
House Bill HR4843, or the Infant Plan of Safe Care Act, which also passed the House last year, seeks to improve state plans to care for infants born affected by substance use, withdrawal symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Those in favor of the bill argue that estimates guess that opioid-dependent babies are born every 19 minutes and our nation has to act. Those opposed say there are existing federal laws on this subject that far too many states aren’t in compliance with. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that implementing the bill would cost less than $500,000 a year. Sponsoring Representative Lou Barletta (R-PA) says he introduced the bill to ensure that Health and Human Services does a better job of verifying that states are meeting their obligations under current child welfare requirements. “We see the damage of substance use across all segments of our society, but perhaps the most tragic cases involve newborns who enter the world defenseless against the addictions they were born with.” In May, the bill was received in the Senate, read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. For more information surrounding the bill, click here. TO read the text of the bill in its entirety, click here.
Do Paramedics Need to Legally be Able to Administer Narcotics to Patients?
House Bill HR4365, or the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medication Act, would clarify existing law to ensure that emergency medical responders are able to administer controlled substances like pain narcotics and anti-seizure medications under the supervision of a physician. Those in favor of the bill say paramedics and other emergency medical technicians often assist patients when they are in dire need of pain medication or anti-seizure drugs, so it needs to be legally clear that they can administer those medications. Those opposed say the existing law doesn’t need to be clarified to ensure that paramedics can administer drugs that are considered controlled substances without a doctor being present because it’s already permitted and that policy will remain in effect. Sponsoring Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC) says he introduced the bill to ensure that the law clearly allows emergency medical responders to administer controlled substances when treating patients. “Without this solution, we risk sacrificing emergency care and endangering patients simply because law and regulation have not kept up with the evolution of modern medicine,” says Representative Hudson. “This legislation is an important clarification of the law that allows our first responders to continue administering life-saving medications when they need them most.” The bill passed the House and was received in the Senate back in November. For more information surrounding the bill, click here. To read the full text of the bill, click here.
Do State and Local Medical Boards Need Federal Grants to Buy Overdose Reversal Drugs?
House Bill HR3680, or the Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act, would create a $4 million per year grant program to provide overdose reversal drugs like Naloxone to health centers and treatment programs that would be authorized from 2017-2020. Those in favor of the bill say co-prescribing overdose reversal drugs alongside their treatment program helps save the lives of those at risk of opioid addiction. Those opposed say if state and local medical boards need to purchase these overdose reversal drugs they can spend their own money on them rather than relying on federal grants. Sponsoring Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD) says he introduced the bill to increase access to overdose reversal drugs for those at risk of opioid addiction through federal grants to state and local medical boards. “The increase in opioid overdoses is a national crisis that cuts too many lives short and tears too many families apart,” says Representative Sarbanes. “Holding this hearing is a positive step in addressing our nation’s overdose epidemic.” The bill passed the House, was received in the Senate, read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. For more information surrounding the bill, click here. To read the full text in its entirety, click here.
Should Pharmacies be Able to Partially Fill Opioid Prescriptions to Reduce Unused Medications?
House Bill HR4599, or the Reducing Unused Medications Act, would allow for prescriptions involving Schedule II drugs, which are mostly opioids, to be partially filled so as to avoid providing patients with more potentially addictive prescription drugs than they need. Those in favor of the bill say patients and doctors should have the ability to partially fill prescriptions for potentially addictive opioids to reduce the amount of unused medication that’s misused. Those opposed argue that if patients don’t want or need to use their full prescription there are ways for them to safely dispose of the medication so it’s not left sitting around where it may be misused. Sponsoring Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA) says she introduced this bill to allow opioid prescriptions to be partially filled at the request of patients and doctors. “Millions of half-filled bottles of unused prescription drugs line our families’ medicine cabinets, and too often, that is where opioid addiction begins,” says Representative Clark. “The Reducing Unused Medications Act empowers patients to manage their prescriptions responsibly and reduces the number of unused and unwanted painkillers that are fueling our nation’s opioid epidemic.” The bill passed the House, was received in the Senate, read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. For more information surrounding the bill, click here. To read the full text of the bill, click here.