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BPC Statement on Senate Passage of Opioid Legislation to Fight Nation’s Epidemic

Washington, D.C.– Today the Bipartisan Policy Center issued the following statement by Anand Parekh, MD, chief medical advisor, following the successful effort of the Senate to pass legislation to address the nation’s opioid epidemic:

“BPC commends the Senate for passing H.R. 6, the bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 (OCRA), led by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA). The legislation contains a broad array of provisions that will improve federal authorities’ efforts to curb illicit opioids and unnecessary prescription opioids while expanding medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.

“The following provisions in OCRA align with BPC recommendations:

  • Reducing Barriers to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): Section 1406 creates a waiver process that would allow recently graduated physicians, who meet training requirements, to prescribe MAT. Section 1408 allows more flexibility for MAT and codifies the ability of qualified physicians to prescribe MAT to up to 275 patients.
  • Curbing Illicit Supply: Section 1303 improves detection and seizure of illegal drugs, such as fentanyl, by strengthening coordination activities between FDA and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In addition, this section provides infrastructure improvements for upgrades and laboratory capacity for detection and testing imports.
  • Authorizing Federal Coordination of Opioid Programs: Section 3302 reauthorizes the Office of National Drug Control Policy through 2022.
  • Addressing the Impact of Opioid and Substance Use Disorders on Young Children and Families: Section 2301 requires HHS to issue guidance to states on how states can coordinate Medicaid, foster care, and other HHS funding to support substance use treatment and other services provided by treatment facilities. Section 1414 provides support for states to collaborate and improve plans of safe care for substance exposed infants.

“We are pleased to see the diligent efforts of the Senate to advance legislation that builds on consensus proposals from numerous hearings this year to tackle the nation’s opioid crisis. We encourage the House and Senate to reach agreement and send a bill to the president this fall. In addition, ensuring there are sufficient appropriations to fund all of the authorized programs in the legislation will be critical to achieving the intended impact.”