Following the approval by the House and Senate, President Trump recently signed a new package of bipartisan bills into law, aimed at strengthening the federal government’s response to the U.S. opioid crisis.
The legislation, called the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, is meant to address several aspects of the opioid crisis with many major policy changes. However, experts say the legislation is still not enough and more needs to be done to prevent opioid addiction and deadly opioid overdoses in America.
Many experts argue that more funding needs to be appropriated to expanding addiction treatment across the U.S., but the Support for Patients and Communities Act does not do that. Although the law does authorize a few small grant programs, the funding will be determined later by Congress.
What Will the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act Do to Combat the Opioid Crisis?
According to Congress.gov, a summary of the bill includes several policy changes that seek to tackle important issues like opioid addiction prevention, availability of opioid drugs, affordability of treatment services and much more.
The package of bills contains many different policy changes, but, in a nutshell, here’s what the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act will do:
- Expand addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery programs
- Expand a naloxone program to get the life-saving drug into the hands of more emergency responders and prevent deadly drug overdoses
- Encourage more opioid and pain research, as well as the development of non-opioid pain management and treatment
- Address community needs regarding opioid addiction treatment and recovery with a federal grant program
- Limit the overprescription of opioid drugs through Medicare and Medicaid
- Make it easier to receive opioid addiction treatment using Medicare and Medicaid
- Increase penalties for drug manufacturers and distributors regarding the overprescribing of opioid drugs
- Educate health care providers about proper treatment for pain management
- Combat the trafficking of illegal opioid drugs (especially fentanyl) by improving detection and testing methods and improving partnerships between federal agencies
For more information on the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, or to read the full legislation for yourself, visit https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20180924/HR6.pdf.