Federal Lawmakers Approve Bill to Expand Opioid Abuse Treatment

The House has approved new legislation written to give healthcare providers more options as they do their part to stem the opioid crisis. Currently more than 115 people are losing their lives to drug overdoses in the US every day.

The legislation passed easily with a vote of 396-14. It includes several opioid-related bills that lawmakers have decided to make a priority.

Drug Crisis Impacts Many Lives

Many of the lawmakers shared personal accounts of how opioid abuse has affected their family, friends and constituents when urging their colleagues to pass the bill. Majority leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said that his press secretary, Erin Perrine, lost her brother, Eamon, to a drug overdose. The news of his death in 2016 was particularly tragic for the family since it happened shortly before Perrine’s wedding.

McCarthy stated, “Let that be a lesson to us all: There is no event so joyful, no place so safe, that it is untouched by the drug crisis.”

New Law Increases Aid to Medicare Patients

The new bill encourages states to increase treatment coverage for substance abuse through Medicaid. Former prisoners and youth in foster care are among the population groups specifically targeted for increased treatment coverage. To date, 30,000 Medicare patients have been diagnosed with opioid addiction.

The legislation also seeks to increase use of medications to treat opioid abuse. It would allow more healthcare workers to treat patients with medications to reduce overdose risks. Methadone clinics will be added to Medicare program offerings. The new bill adds incentives for physicians to order post-surgical injections, as opposed to prescribing opioids.

White House Supports House’s Effort to Pass Bills

The White House announced its support for the House’s effort, which has involved passing multiple bills on the opioid abuse issue. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called on the Senate to take the legislation up and “get these lifesaving bills to the president’s desk.” Sanders went on to say that the bills represent, “the most significant Congressional effort against a single drug crisis in United States history.”