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US Senate to Vote on Opioid Package

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Senate Leadership announced last evening that they will vote on a bi-partisan package of legislation designed to address the opioid crisis and other substance use disorder issues. The vote will be scheduled next week.

This is a critical step in the process. Because the House of Representatives has already passed its package of similar bills, the Senate needs to act in order to hold a conference committee and agree to something both houses can pass and send to the President.

Included in the Senate version is more funding for states to address addiction, expanded access to medication-assisted treatment, authority for NIH to work on non-opioid pain medications, and a crack down on mail order drugs. It would also reauthorize the Office of National Drug Control Policy and require HHS to develop guidelines for recovery housing.

The Senate version also includes authorization to cover education costs for SUD workers who agree to locate in underserved areas and a review of enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity act (Parity). NAATP has strongly supported both provisions.

Unlike the House version, the Senate did not include language to provide more treatment options for Medicaid patients. They also avoided language changes to 42 CFR Part 2.  The House included changes designed to protect patients’ confidentiality and move SUD treatment into mainstream healthcare.

Please encourage your Senators to vote YES on the Senate package. Once it has passed, we can focus on the conference committee participants, encouraging them to promote NAATP priorities.

Mark Dunn
NAATP Director of Public Policy
Washington, DC