Sweeping Bill to Fight Opioid Addiction Will be Considered by Senate

Article from Stat News by Lev Facher and Rachel Cohrs

The Senate health committee is poised to consider a comprehensive bill aimed at addressing the opioid crisis. This marks the first major legislative action in the current year concerning the addiction problem, with approximately 110,000 Americans succumbing to drug overdoses annually, among which 85,000 are opioid-related. The bill will reauthorize several programs initially created by the SUPPORT Act passed in 2018, which had expired earlier. The legislation will potentially encapsulate several addiction bills previously introduced but yet to be underpinned by the House or Senate. It will potentially include priorities outlined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, but the specifics remain uncertain.

The proposed legislation is likely to incorporate several addiction bills introduced previously, but which haven't gained traction. The TREATS Act, part of the proposal, aims to permanently permit health providers to prescribe buprenorphine via telemedicine, bypassing in-person examination. This provision has faced opposition, but has bipartisan support, with the intention to override the DEA's plans of restoring a physical exam requirement. However, the legislation is likely to overlook the Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act (MOTAA), which would enable addiction doctors to prescribe methadone directly to patients. Methadone has proven effective in preventing opioid overdose and death and is widely accessible in many Western countries. However, in the U.S., access to methadone is limited to specialized clinics.

Here are our key takeaways from the article:

The Senate health care committee is set to consider a comprehensive bill aimed at addressing the opioid crisis, according to lobbyists and a congressional aide.

If passed, this would be the first significant action by Capitol Hill on the addiction crisis this year.

Current data indicates that around 110,000 Americans die from drug overdoses annually, with approximately 85,000 of these involving opioids.

The updated SUPPORT Act would continue funding community-based organizations, extend certain provisions for access to addiction medications, and expand treatment access for pregnant women and incarcerated individuals.

The TREATS Act, which has bipartisan support, could create a permanent exemption from some laws governing controlled substances. 

The American Society of Addiction Medicine is pushing for the inclusion of the Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act (MOTAA). This proposal would enable addiction doctors to prescribe methadone directly to patients.

The fate of the bill remains uncertain even if it passes the HELP Committee and the full Senate. 


Sweeping bill to fight opioid addiction will be considered by Senate health committee

By Lev Facher and Rachel Cohrs on STAT

"The Senate health care committee will consider a sweeping bill next week meant to combat the opioid epidemic, according to four lobbyists and a congressional aide familiar with the legislation. 

The proposal would reauthorize a number of programs first created by the SUPPORT Act, an addiction-focused bill that Congress first passed in 2018."

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