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  • Washington Highlights

    House Approves Opioid Conference Report

    Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach

    The House July 8 approved, 407-5, the conference agreement for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 conference report (H. Rept. 114-669). The House and Senate opioid conferees July 7 finalized the agreement, however only Republican conferees signed the report. The final package is a compromise between the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (S.524) passed by the Senate on March 10 and a series of bills passed by the House on May 11 and May 12.

    The opioid conference report includes provisions related to opioid and heroin abuse prevention, education, recovery, and treatment. For example, there is a provision that would provide grants to states to establish a response plan to opioids, which could include the “education of residents, medical students, and physicians…on relevant prescribing guidelines.”

    Furthermore, the bill would call for additional evidence-based treatments and interventions as well as the establishment of an inter-agency task force to review and identify the best practices for pain management.

    Democratic House and Senate conferees, as well as the administration, have voiced their concerns with the House conference report due to its lack of funding for programs authorized under the bill. Conferees rejected amendments offered by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that would have provided $920 million in funding through FY 2018 for the programs.

    The Democratic conferees July 5 sent a letter to Conference Committee Chair Fred Upton (D-Mich.) noting that they will “not sign a conference report that does not include significant funding that reflects the seriousness of the epidemic and provides meaningful support to these important priorities.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also noted that if the bill does not include any funding he “certainly cannot promise that the President would sign it.”

    It is unclear when the Senate will take up the conference report due to Democrats’ objections to the lack of additional funding.