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Far-Reaching Opioid Bill Passes House

June 27, 2018

In what the House Energy and Commerce Committee has described as “the most significant congressional effort against a single drug crisis in history,” the House of Representatives has passed, by an overwhelming majority, the bipartisan SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) to curb the growing opioid crisis.  The bill will serve as the vehicle for a variety of House-passed bills related to the opioid epidemic as it moves to the Senate in July.

The bill includes provisions to:

  • Instruct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to evaluate the use of telehealth services in treating substance abuse disorder.
  • Create a pass-through payment extension under Medicare to facilitate the development of non-opioid alternatives.
  • Incorporate a review of opioid prescriptions and opioid use disorder screening into the Welcome to Medicare initial examination.
  • Reverse a reimbursement reduction for post-surgical injections as an alternative to opioids in ambulatory settings.
  • Require e-prescribing, with some exceptions, for controlled substances under Medicare Part D.
  • Require Medicare prescription drug plan sponsors to establish a drug management program for at-risk beneficiaries.
  • Offer access to medication assisted treatment through Medicare bundled payment programs.
  • Require state Medicaid programs not to terminate medical assistance eligibility for juveniles who have been incarcerated.  The program must restore coverage upon the individual’s release unless the person no longer meets eligibility requirements.
  • Conduct a demonstration project to provide enhanced federal grants for Medicaid expenditures related to substance abuse treatment and recovery services focusing on provider capacity.
  • Create a beneficiary assignment program that identifies Medicaid beneficiaries who are at risk for substance abuse disorder and assign them to a pharmaceutical home program that sets limits on the number of prescribers and dispensers beneficiaries may utilize.
  • Institute safety edits for opioid refills and concurrent prescribing of opioids and certain other drugs.
  • Issue guidance on pathways to bring non-addictive pain and addiction treatments to patients.
  • Provide state and local grants for public health laboratories to detect fentanyl, its analogues and other synthetic opioids.
  • Make permanent authority for advanced practice registered nurses to prescribe buprenorphine and permit a waivered practitioner to immediately begin treating 100 patients at a time with the medication.

More information on H.R. 6 is available here.