April 16, 2018 | Policy Update
National Addiction Policy Update April 2018
WASHINGTON D.C. UPDATE
Congress members returned to Washington after a 2-week recess. Activity to address the opioid epidemic is ramping up, and a summary of the activities of several committees is detailed below. At this moment in time, it is not clear how the work of the various committees may or may not be ultimately combined into a legislative package.
CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES
Senate Finance Committee
On April 19th the Finance Committee holds a hearing on how to improve Medicare and Medicaid’s response to the opioid epidemic. Senate Judiciary Committee The Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism held a hearing titled, “Defeating Fentanyl: Addressing the Deadliest Drugs Fueling the Opioid Crisis.” The hearing discussed:
- The increasing number of opioid-related deaths attributable to fentanyl and its analogs
- How fentanyl is testing law enforcement methods and straining resources in communities and emergency departments
- If mandatory minimum penalties are necessary for dealers of fentanyl
House Energy and Commerce Committee
This House Energy and Commerce Committee held a 2-day hearing on a record 34 bills and discussion drafts related to Medicare and Medicaid to address the opioid epidemic.
This is the third and final hearing the Committee will hold before moving to markup. Given the large number of bills under consideration and competition for Floor time, the vote on the House floor could be postponed until the first week in June (right after Memorial Day). Democrats on the Committee expressed concerns at this week’s hearing about the speed at which the Committee is moving on such a large number of bills and the risk of unintended negative consequences to the Medicaid program.
The Oversight Subcommittee also announced this week that they will hold a hearing in May on the “dumping” of opioid pills into West Virginia.
House Ways and Means Committee
The committee released a bipartisan discussion draft that summarized feedback they received from stakeholders on solutions to the opioid epidemic.
- Improving treatment and reimbursements, including increasing access to Medication Assisted
- Treatment, utilization and access to non-opioid treatments of pain, as well as modernizing reimbursement and quality measures
- Utilizing tools to prevent overprescribing and abuse, including Part D lock-in, limiting prescriptions, and better data tracking
- Enhancing screening for opioid use disorders, provider education and communication, and patient education
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
The Subcommittee on Healthcare, Benefits, and Administrative Rules held a hearing titled, “Local Responses and Resources to Curtail the Opioid Crisis.”
House Armed Services Committee
On April 19th the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Military Personnel holds a hearing titled, “Military Health System Reform: Pain Management, Opioids Prescription Management and Reporting Transparency.”
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee
On Wednesday, the Senate HELP Committee held a legislative hearing on their discussion draft. The Committee will hold a markup on April 24 and it is anticipated that several members of the Committee will introduce related bills.
This Policy Update was generously provided by Holly Strain & Carol McDaid of Capitol Decisions