Legislative Alert: Senate Passes Opioid Package – Final Round

October 4, 2018

On October 3, 2018, the Senate passed the Opioid Package, SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), by a vote of 98-1. This follows the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passing H.R. 6 with a vote of 393-8. The bill is now headed to the President's desk for signature.

As the legislation states, "This bill makes several changes to state Medicaid programs to address opioid and substance use disorders. Specifically, the bill:

  • establishes a demonstration project to increase provider treatment capacity for substance use disorders,
  • requires the establishment of drug management programs for at-risk beneficiaries,
  • establishes drug review and utilization requirements,
  • temporarily requires coverage of medication-assisted treatment.

The bill also alters Medicare requirements to address opioid use. Specifically, the bill:

  • exempts substance use disorder telehealth services from specified requirements,
  • requires the initial examination for new enrollees to include an opioid use disorder screening,
  • modifies provisions regarding electronic prescriptions and post-surgical pain management,
  • requires prescription drug plan sponsors to establish drug management programs for at-risk beneficiaries, and
  • requires coverage for services provided by certified opioid treatment programs.

The bill also addresses other opioid-related issues. Specifically, the bill:

  • establishes and expands programs to support increased detection and monitoring of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, and
  • increases the maximum number of patients that health care practitioners may initially treat with medication-assisted treatment (i.e., under a buprenorphine waiver).

Additionally, the bill temporarily eliminates the enhanced federal matching rate for Medicaid expenditures regarding specified medical services provided by certain managed care organizations."

While Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act is a far cry from ideal, it is a tremendous step forward in the battle against the opioid crisis and substance use disorders in general.

BHAP supports the passage of the bill into law by President Trump and encourages all interested parties to contact the President with a message of support for the passage of the bill into law.


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