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  • Washington Highlights

    Two House Committees Advance Opioid Legislation


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

    Two separate committees in the House of Representatives – the Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee – advanced separate opioid packages. The action by the House Energy and Commerce Committee follows a May 9 markup of 26 pieces of legislation, and an April 24 markup of 57 pieces of legislation [see, Washington Highlights, April 27, May 11]. The House Ways and Means Committee had not previously considered any related opioids bills.

    The House Ways and Means Committee May 16 advanced seven pieces of bipartisan legislation in its markup. Discussion drafts were released by the committee May 4 and sent to stakeholders for comment and feedback. The discussion drafts were then grouped into “packages” by theme, including prevention and program integrity, beneficiary and patient education, prescriber and provider education, and treatment and innovation. During the markup, Congressman Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) spoke about a bill he recently introduced that was not part of the markup, the “Opioid Workforce Act of 2018” (H.R. 5818, S. 2843). During the markup, Rep. Crowley said “To address this particular crisis facing our nation, I recently introduced the Opioid Workforce Act of 2018, which would more directly increase support for the addiction treatment workforce. This legislation would provide 1,000 additional residency positions to hospitals that have or are establishing residency programs in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain management. This bill provides a long overdue investment in our healthcare system infrastructure and workplace development. Without more physicians treating substance abuse disorder, we won’t be able to address the opioid epidemic.”

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee May 17 held its markup of legislation to address the opioid epidemic. The markup did not include the draft “Medicaid Graduate Medical Education Transparency Act” that had been considered during the April 27 markup [see, Washington Highlights, April 27]. Ultimately the Committee advanced 32 bills including H.R. 5797, the “IMD Care Act” that will allow state Medicaid programs to remove the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion for Medicaid beneficiaries with an opioid use disorder. The AAMC signed a hospital community letter in support of The Limited Repeal of the IMD Exclusion for Adult Medicaid Beneficiaries with Substance Use Disorder Act, the precursor to the IMD Care Act.

    House Leadership has not yet announced next steps for consideration of either Committee’s opioid package.