WASHINGTON – Key measures championed by Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) were included in bipartisan draft legislation to combat the fentanyl, heroin, and opioid epidemic, announced by the leadership of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee yesterday.
The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 was released in draft form so that the HELP Committee can continue to solicit input from experts and families and make updates based on this feedback. Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) also announced that a committee hearing on the draft legislation will take place on Wednesday, April 11.
“The fentanyl, heroin, and opioid epidemic is the most pressing and urgent public health and safety challenge facing New Hampshire and our country, and Congress must take further action to support those struggling with addiction and those combating this crisis on the front lines,” Senator Hassan said. “The bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 is an important step forward in those efforts. I am pleased that this draft bill includes bipartisan legislation I wrote to expand existing treatment centers to serve as Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers. I am also glad that the bill includes additional priorities that I have championed to strengthen prevention, treatment, recovery, and support for first responders. I commend Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray for their collaboration on this legislation, and I will continue working with members of both parties to secure passage of these critical priorities and to ensure that funding is prioritized for hardest hit states such as New Hampshire.”
See below for a number of the key priorities championed by Senator Hassan included in the bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018:
- Bipartisan Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act, introduced by Senators Hassan and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). This bipartisan measure would create a pilot program allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants to expand existing centers to serve as “Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers,” which would provide a full range of treatment and recovery services, including medication-assisted treatment, counseling, recovery housing, job training and support reintegrating into the workforce, community-based and peer recovery support services, and more. Similar legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- Bipartisan Advancing Cutting-Edge (ACE) Research Act, introduced by Senators Hassan, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Todd Young (R-IN). The measure would provide the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with more flexible authority to conduct innovative research to increase scientific understanding and lead to ways to prevent, treat, diagnose and cure disease, including research that is urgently required to respond to public health threats such as the opioid crisis.
- Prioritizing funding for hardest hit states. Senator Hassan has led efforts to ensure that states such as New Hampshire get a fair share of federal funding to combat the opioid crisis, and she will keep working to ensure that the final version of this bill prioritizes funding for hardest hit states.
- Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment. The bill contains provisions similar to those included in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 and the Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act, both of which Senator Hassan joined in introducing, to expand the number of patients that qualified physicians can treat with life-saving medication-assisted treatment such as buprenorphine to 275 patients, and to make permanent the ability of nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe medication-assisted treatment.
- Addressing opioid treatment workforce shortage. The bill includes concepts similar to legislation Senator Hassan introduced with Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to address the ongoing shortage of professionals needed to provide treatment and recovery services as communities combat the opioid abuse epidemic.
- The draft legislation addresses a number of key priorities that were also focuses of the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 that Senator Hassan joined a number of her colleagues in introducing:
- Expands a first responder training program and helps ensure that first responders are safe when they respond to overdoses, a priority the Senator has heard about directly from New Hampshire first responders and public safety officials.
- Directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop best practices on recovery housing, a key New Hampshire priority.
- Authorizes grants to help states implement plans of safe care for substance-exposed infants.
- Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, to develop best practices and issue grants for prevention and treatment of and recovery from substance use disorder in children, adolescents, and young adults.