In an effort to fight the ongoing opioid epidemic, lawmakers in both Columbus and Washington, D.C., have been pushing dozens of bills that could impact prevention and treatment efforts in the Dayton region.
Both houses of Congress have worked in recent months to combine bills into bipartisan packages of legislation that include everything from interdiction efforts at the nation’s borders to limits on the amount of opioids doctors can prescribe to their patients.
Because the flurry of legislation is nearly impossible for any one person to follow, the Dayton Daily News as part of its initiative, The Path Forward, reviewed each piece of legislation to see how it might impact our community.
One of the bills, the U.S. Senate version of House Resolution 6 could be voted on as early as this week. The House version, also called the SUPPORT Act, passed June 22. It included several changes to Medicaid and Medicare as well as provisions to increase access to and research on alternative pain treatments; improve prevention, education and evidence-based treatment; create federal standards for sober living facilities; and increase data collection.
The Senate version includes provisions from several bills sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Among them:
- The STOP Act: Portman is one of the authors of the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention Act in the Senate. It has already passed in the House. It would require the U.S. Postal Service to share with Customs and Border Protection personnel advanced electronic data on 100 percent of packages entering the U.S. to help identify suspicious shipments. The goal is to stop deadly fentanyl from entering the country from China and Mexico.
- The CRIB Act: Brown and Portman along with sponsors in five other states introduced this bill to allow Medicaid to cover health care services to infants suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome outside of the hospital. Brigid’s Path in Kettering is one of only a handful of residential pediatric recovery centers in the country and could benefit from this legislation. Currently, Brigid’s Path cannot bill Medicaid for services to babies in withdrawal, thereby limiting how many families it can serve. “We need to get this legislation through the Senate soon, to support the most vulnerable victims of the opioid crisis, and make sure all babies and their caregivers can get care in a setting that meets their special needs,” Brown said.
- The CARA 2.0 Act: This Portman-sponsored bill would increase the funding authorization levels for the programs enacted in 2016 under the CARA Act and put in place additional policy reforms, including limiting opioid prescriptions to three days.
- The CARE Act: Brown introduced this bill that would combine existing job training and addiction recovery grant programs to create a pilot program to address workforce shortages exacerbated by the opioid crisis. Brown said the program will help employers fill openings and help those in recovery get back on their feet. The Path Forward recently featured several local programs that are helping connect people in recovery with jobs in Dayton.
Portman said he was encouraged that not a single senator from either political party voted against bringing the legislation to the Senate floor.
“This crisis affects every state in our country, and this legislation’s unanimous passage is an encouraging example of putting partisanship aside to achieve meaningful results for our constituents,” he said.
The combined package will not allocate new money, lawmakers have said, but the last Congress passed two pieces of legislation that are currently providing many of the local resources for combating the opioid crisis. They are CARA (The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act) and the 21st Century Cures Act.
See the accompanying box for descriptions of those bills and other opioid-related legislation in Congress and in the Ohio General Assembly.
How to get help: An opioid addiction resource guide
About The Path Forward
The Dayton Daily News has formed a team to seek solutions to some of the region’s biggest problems. You can read all of our past stories online at DaytonDailyNews.com/PathForward.
Be part of the conversation
You can reach Katie Wedell in a variety of ways: Phone: 937-328-0353; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; social media: @KatieWedellDDN on Facebook and @KatieWedell on Twitter. You can also share ideas by joining Katie’s Facebook group The Path Forward: Addiction in Dayton
- CARA: The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act committed $144.1 million in grants for programs including first responder training and naloxone distribution, treatment for pregnant and postpartum women, and expanded access to medically-assisted treatment. Montgomery County’s ADAMHS board received $2 million to provide wider access to the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone in Montgomery, Darke and Preble counties through this funding.
- The 21st Century Cures Act provided $1 billion in state grants over two years — 2017 and 2018. Ohio received $26 million in each of those years. States got to decide what prevention, treatment, and recovery services they wanted to spend the money on.
- POWER Act: The Providing Officers with Electronic Resources Act would establish a grant program through the U.S. Department of Justice to help state and local law enforcement organizations secure the same high-tech, portable screening devices for fentanyl that border patrol agents are receiving under the INTERDICT Act, which was signed into law earlier this year.
- Medicaid CARE Act: Co-authored by Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman of Ohio, this bill would modify current law to allow Medicaid coverage for up to 40 beds at accredited residential addiction treatment facilities for up to 60 consecutive days. Currently, facilities must have 16 beds or fewer in order to get Medicaid funding. This would allow current treatment providers to expand the number of people they can serve at a time.
- SB1: Goes into effect October 31 and increases penalties for drug trafficking and some drug possession convictions when fentanyl is involved.
- SB 119 “Daniel’s Law”: Passed in the Senate and introduced in the House. Alters the rules around pharmacists ability to refill and administer addiction treatment drug naltrexone including in emergency situations without a prescription.
- HB 296: Passed the house in June, introduced in the Senate. Increases penalties for drug trafficking offenses when committed within 1,000 feet of a addiction services provider. The penalty enhancements are equivalent to existing penalty enhancements for the same drug offenses when committed in the vicinity of a school or juvenile.
- SB 310/HB 618: Would create a non-opioid directive form for use by patients who do not want to be offered, prescribed, or administered any opioid medications. Senate version would also require public employee health plans to cover non-opioid therapies such as chiropractic services, acupuncture, and osteopathic physicians.
- HB 535: Passed by House, introduced in Senate. The Opioid Data and Communication Expansion Act includes several requirements for reporting overdose and naloxone distribution data to the Ohio Department of Health.