House Passes DelBene Bills to Address Opioid Crisis
This week, the House of Representatives passed several bills to help address the opioid crisis, including two bipartisan bills introduced by Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA) – the Expanding Oversight of Opioid Prescribing and Payment Act (H.R. 5273) and the Combatting Opioid Abuse for Care in Hospitals (COACH) Act (H.R. 5774). Both of these bills are included in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) which is the House’s comprehensive opioid legislation which passed the House on Friday.
“Too many people are suffering from addiction that started from an opioid prescription when an alternative might have been available, including a gentleman I met who became addicted at age 17 simply because he was prescribed opioids when he had his wisdom teeth removed,” DelBene said. “We need to reformulate our payment policies so that hospitals are given the right incentives and able to provide patients with the highest quality of care and that patients are made aware of alternative strategies for pain management if available. These bipartisan bills are good first steps to addressing this issue that affects countless individuals and families across my district and the nation.
The Expanding Oversight of Opioid Prescribing and Payment Act of 2018, sponsored by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY), requires the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to evaluate and report on adverse incentives that lead to the over prescription of opioids and underutilization of non-opioid alternatives in the hospital setting.
The Combatting Opioid Abuse for Care in Hospitals (COACH) Act (H.R.5774), sponsored by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), requires the Department of Health and Human Services to provide hospitals with guidance on strategies for pain management and preventing opioid-use disorder for Medicare patients who receive treatment at the hospital. It also requires the establishment of two technical expert panels to review medical care quality measures and make recommendations on best practices for pain management and reducing opioid use in surgical settings.
In 2016, DelBene amended the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to implement community-based substance use diversion programs sponsored by a law enforcement agency. Last year, the Department of Justice awarded $24 million in federal grants to localities for those programs and other treatment alternatives to incarceration to help address the opioid epidemic.