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  • Washington Highlights

    Senate Approval of Opioid Conference Report Sends Bill to the President

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

    The Senate July 13 approved, 92-2, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 conference report (H. Rept. 114-669), which the House July 7 approved by a vote of 407-5 [see Washington Highlights, July 8], sending the report to the President’s desk for his signature. Lawmakers negotiated a compromise package 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.

    While the conference report passed with strong bipartisan support, Democrats in both chambers voiced their concerns with the conference report due to its lack of funding for programs authorized under the bill, and wrote a letter expressing their concerns to Conference Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.). Furthermore, despite indicating that the President would not sign a bill without additional funds, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest released a statement stating that the President will sign the bill, but added the President “won’t stop fighting to secure the resources this public health crisis demands.”

    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.”

    Additionally, the bill would call for additional evidence-based treatments and interventions as well as the establishment of an interagency task force to review and identify the best practices for pain management. Moreover, the report would create a Medicare “lock-in” program that would limit beneficiaries’, who are at-risk of abuse, choice of prescribers or pharmacies “in order to better monitor their use of these medications.”