Opioid fight continues with multiple bills in Congress


As the House and Senate advance legislation to address the opioid crisis, several state Medicaid programs will undergo changes.

The House’s efforts have culminated in passing the SUPPORT Act on June 22, standing for Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recover and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act. Meanwhile, the full Senate will vote on the HEAL Act, which stands for the Helping to End Addiction and Lessen Substance Use Disorders Act.

The SUPPORT Act make several changes to state Medicaid programs to address opioid and substance use disorders including:

  • requiring the establishment of drug management programs for at-risk beneficiaries, establishing drug review and utilization requirements and modifying provisions related to coverage for juvenile inmates and former foster care youth.
  • Altering Medicare requirements to address opioid use and changing electronic prescriptions and post-surgical pain management
  • requiring coverage for services provided by certified opioid treatment programs and requiring the initial examination for new enrollees to include an opioid use disorder screening
  • addressing other opioid-related issues by establishing and expanding programs to support increased detection and monitoring of synthetic opioids
  • increasing the maximum number of patients that health care practitioners may initially treat with medication

Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, supported the bill, citing his background of 18 years with the Los Angeles Police Department seeing the opioid crisis in communities.

Knight’s background is also his motivation to join the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, which in the House helps craft policies.

“I was proud to vote in support of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, as it also passed the House with wide bipartisan support,” he said on Tuesday. “This bill will increase oversight and accountability.”

Knight is concerned patients are able to be overprescribed certain medications, and wants to improve measures to combat fentanyl and synthetic drugs.

The congressman voted to pass multiple bills in the House of Representatives designed to combat the growing opioid crisis.

One is to prevent opioid addiction among veterans, which addresses overprescription in military healthcare and goes by the COMBAT Act.

Other legislation includes the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act, which allowed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to elevate a new dangerous drug to a new ‘schedule’ or classification even if appears similar to a drug with a different schedule.

H.R. 5009, known as Jessie’s Law, would make sure medical professionals have access to the health information history of their patients before making decisions on treatment.

The Veterans Treatment Improvement Act would employ 50 specialists for Veterans Justice Outreach to help veterans involved in the criminal justice system to have greater access at Veterans Treatment Courts.

The Synthetic Drugs Awareness Act, H.R. 449, would require the U.S. Surgeon General to report on the public health effects of synthetic drug use by young people aged 12 to 18.

Along with Knight’s bills, 33 other bills have passed through the House to target the opioid crisis.

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