With Kavanaugh Hearing Underway, Senate Must Not Lose Focus On Opioid Legislation Package

With Kavanaugh Hearing Underway, Senate Must Not Lose Focus on Opioid Legislation Package

AZZLY® is joining the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) in urging the U.S. Senate to come together and pass the Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Package before the midterm elections. With reports indicating the package could come to a vote as early as next week, we urge senators not to delay these crucial bills any longer.

Senators have been working on a legislative package of several SUD-related bills, similar to the one passed by the House of Representatives in June. The House package included more than 50 bills aimed at tackling opioid addiction, collectively titled H.R.6 – the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act.

As senators aim their focus at filling the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Anthony Kennedy, we urge them to not lose sight of their commitment to addressing SUDs. Contact your senators to express your support of this opioid package.

What’s in the Package

The Senate’s package is expected to include many of the changes to existing opioid policy from the House’s H.R.6 package. H.R.6 notably included:

  • Altering Medicaid to…
    • establish a demonstration project to increase provider treatment capacity for SUDs
    • temporarily require coverage of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). MAT is a safe and easy-to-control solution used to treat a number of different substance issues. In addition to Medicaid, sixteen major healthcare payers representing 248 million people endorse this revolutionary method. Visit AZZLY.com to learn more about Medication Management.
  • Altering Medicare to….
    • require prescription drug plan sponsors to establish drug management programs for at-risk beneficiaries
    • require coverage for services provided by certified opioid treatment programs.
  • Increasing the maximum number of patients that health care practitioners may initially treat with Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).

On Monday, the NAATP expressed their support of several items in the Senate legislative package, including “annual analysis of what each state is doing to enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA – Parity)” and the inclusion of “provisions to repay costs of education for SUD staff choosing to work in underserved areas.”

When to Expect Results

Though the Senate had previously been expected to pass the opioid package before July 4, they announced that they would instead consider the bills before the August recess, before delaying them yet again.

The pressure to pass opioid legislation happens to come while a Supreme Court vacancy hangs over the Senate’s head. Senators face immense pressure from both sides, as their possible confirmation of President Trump’s nominee Brett Kavanaugh could shape decades of Supreme Court decisions. With Kavanaugh’s hearing entering day four this Friday, a decision on his possible confirmation seems to sit firmly at the top of senators’ to-do list.

However, there is renewed hope in the package passing as House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated Thursday the bills could come to a vote as early as next week. Still, given that any Senate package will return to the House to be reconciled with their H.R.6 opioids package, it is very possible that no meaningful legislation will be passed before the November 2018 midterm elections.

AZZLY urges the Senate to pass these bills and not delay crucial opioid legislation any further. Opioid addiction affects millions of Americans, and the provisions included in this package such as coverage of MAT provide an important step toward addressing this critical issue.

Contact your senators to express your support of the Substance Use Disorder Package.

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