In a 396-14 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act, or H.R. 6 —bipartisan opioid legislation that aims to curb drug abuse.
Sponsored by Greg Walden, R-Oregon, the package of legislation contains more than 50 individually approved bills to address what Pres. Donald Trump has called a health emergency.
The SUPPORT bill is intended to fight the opioid crisis by advancing treatment and recovery programs, improving prevention efforts, providing resources to communities and fighting drugs like Fentanyl. The legislation also calls for a review of current opioid prescriptions, development and usage of non-addictive painkillers, making a patient’s addiction history as part of their medical records to prevent relapse and reducing the trafficking of Chinese fentanyl into the country. Additionally, the legislation will expand Medicare and Medicaid-related services to combat drug abuse.
Opposition votes came from 13 Republicans and a lone Democrat. Alabama’s Rep. Mo Brooks voted against the legislation, which is now headed to the Senate for review and passage.
In short, the bill makes several changes to state Medicaid programs to address opioid and substance use disorders. Specifically, the bill:
- modifies provisions related to coverage for juvenile inmates and former foster care youth,
- 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,
- extends the enhanced federal matching rate for expenditures regarding substance use disorder health home services, and
- 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.
The Medical Association is closely monitoring the status of this legislation, but we encourage you to read more about the legislation here.