What’s included in the opioids bill signed by President Trump.
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump signed a landmark bill Wednesday intended to deal with the nation’s opioid epidemic, a bipartisan breakthrough for a crisis claiming tens of thousands of U.S. lives every year.
“Together we are going to end the scourge of drug addiction in American,” Trump said at the White House during an East Room event to sign the legislation.
The number of people who died from an opioid overdose rose to 72,000 last year, a roughly 13 percent increase from the year before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Monthly stats indicate the surge in deaths may be slowing.
Congress approved the Support for Patients and Community Act with wide bipartisan margins. Though advocacy groups have applauded the legislation, some have questioned its impact unless lawmakers approve billions more for treatment.
A look at five major provisions of the legislation Trump signed into law:
Expands recovery centers
The Department of Health and Human Services will oversee a grant program to expand the use of “comprehensive recovery centers,” which include job training, mental health services and housing alongside addiction treatment. The model has proven successful in some parts of the country. Funding for the centers will come later, as part of the annual congressional appropriations process.
Curbs drug shipments
The law attempts to improve coordination between U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Postal Service and other entities to stop shipments of fentanyl and other illicit drugs from entering the country. The law requires USPS to transmit electronic data on all incoming shipments to border agents by 2020 and creates a $1 fee on inbound Express Mail items to pay for the new requirements.
Lifts treatment restrictions
Federal officials have sought for years to make it easier for doctors to prescribe drugs like Buprenorphine, which help people wean off their opioid addiction. The law allows clinical nurse specialists and others to prescribe those drugs for five years. And it codifies that physicians may prescribe those drugs for up to 275 patients, putting into law a higher cap that the Obama administration raised with a regulation.
Frees new painkiller research
Frees the National Institutes of Health to more quickly pursue research projects related to non-addictive drugs for pain. Requires Medicare documentation to educate patients about categories of alternative, non-opioid pain management treatments.
Changes Medicare, Medicaid
The law makes changes to several Medicare and Medicaid regulations. It would expand Medicare coverage for opioid treatment, increase screenings for opioid use disorder and expand the use of telehealth services for the treatment of substance-use disorders. The law would require a state Medicaid program to suspend, rather than terminate, a minor’s medical coverage if that person is incarcerated.