The Opioid Package: A Rare Bipartisan Triumph
On October 3rd, 2018, the Senate passed an opioid package that combined more than 70 bills that have all faced contention in the past. In what is considered a historic, near-unanimous vote, the package passed through on its way to the President. Only one senator, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, voted against.
What Is the Opioid Package?
There are many parts of the bill that are meant to help our nation out of its current opioid epidemic, everything from preventing more lethal drugs coming into this country to helping people who are already suffering from addiction get treatment. The bill covers, but is not limited to:
- The package allows Medicare to give beneficiaries more information on opioid alternative pain treatments. They can also expand treatment options for enrollees and beneficiaries who are addicted to opioids.
- It partially repeals the exclusion of Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases, which blocked state Medicaid programs from covering inpatient treatment in residential facilities with more than 16 beds.
- Mothers undergoing addiction treatment will be allowed to have their young children stay with them and increase the accessibility of residential treatment programs for families, allowing more parents to get help while with their children.
- It requires state Medicaid programs to have more involvement for opioid refills, monitoring concurrent prescriptions of opioids and other drugs, and monitor antipsychotic prescriptions for children.
- Federal agencies are required to develop and distribute educational materials to pharmacists on circumstance when they are legally permitted to decline someone a prescription for a controlled substance. Listed reasons include fraud, forgery, or some form of modification to the prescription.
- The FDA is required to develop new, evidence-based opioid prescription guidelines for the treatment of acute pain.
- The U.S. Postal Service will now be required to screen packages shipped from overseas that could contain an illicit synthetic opioid, such as fentanyl.
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Understanding the Opioid Package
There may be a lot of confusion on how this new package of laws and regulations will change the current state of our country. The important thing to take away from this is that these programs are meant to not only help those who are currently suffering and recovering from addiction, but preventing more people from becoming addicted. Like any bill, people may not feel the effects immediately, but they are coming. Something is being done about our current crisis. If you are someone who needs help now, then try reaching out to a dedicated treatment provider. They can provide you with more information about the next steps you can take.