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House and Senate Prepare to Pass Bipartisan Bill to Fight Opioid Crisis

In late September 2018, the US House and Senate agreed on a compromise bill to address multiple aspects of the opioid crisis. Among the key provisions in the bill are ones to:

  • Enhance access to non-opioid pain treatment options provided by Medicaid.
  • Improve data sharing for Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs between states.
  • Mandate Medicare-funded drug plan sponsors to include a drug management program for at-risk beneficiaries.
  • Restrict entrance of illegal drugs into the United States.
  • Increase the number of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) waivers to physicians and other health care providers to allow more non-physician specialists to prescribe MAT.
  • Provide manufacturers and distributors access to anonymized prescription data to reduce medication diversion.

There is not yet a complete accounting of the new funds the bill would bring to bear on the opioid crisis, but a Congressional Budget Office estimate of the earlier House version of the bill suggested the 5-year expenditure would be approximately $8 billion dollars.