Senate passes the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018
The U.S. Senate passed its amendment to H.R. 6, the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, on Monday in a 99-1 vote to address the United States’ ongoing opioid addiction epidemic. The bipartisan bill package contains proposals from 72 senators and work from five Senate committees: banking, commerce, finance, health, and judiciary.
According to a statement from Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the health committee and co-author of the bill, the committee heard from governors, doctors, and addiction experts in order to draft the bill.
Sen. Alexander’s statement lists 10 key provisions in the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018:
- The STOP Act—Stop illegal drugs, including fentanyl, from coming across the border through the mail
- New non-addictive painkillers, research and fast-track
- Blister packs for opioids, such as a 3 or 7-day supply
- More medication–assisted treatment
- Prevent “doctor-shopping” by improving state prescription drug monitoring programs
- More behavioral and mental health providers
- Support for comprehensive opioid recovery centers
- Help for babies born in opioid withdrawal
- Help for mothers addicted to opioids
- More early intervention with vulnerable children who have experienced trauma
The House passed similar legislation, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act, on June 22, by a vote of 396 to 14. The next step for Congress is to reconcile these two bill packages.
Other legislative measures have been passed in recent years to address the opioid crisis. Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in July 2016. The 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act) was signed into law in December 2016.