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Senate HELP Committee Passes Bipartisan Legislation with Key Hassan Provisions to Combat Opioid Crisis

WASHINGTON – The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee today unanimously passed the bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 to strengthen efforts to combat the opioid crisis. As a member of Senate HELP Committee, Senator Hassan successfully fought to include a number of key New Hampshire priorities in the legislation. 

“I am grateful to my colleagues from both parties on the Senate HELP Committee for working together to pass this important legislation to help support those on the front lines of the opioid crisis,” Senator Hassan said. “This bipartisan legislation includes several measures I proposed to strengthen prevention, treatment, recovery, and support for first responders, including a bipartisan bill I introduced to expand existing treatment centers to serve as Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers and another bill I introduced to train more new doctors to prescribe medication-assisted treatment.

“Crucially, this bill also enables the Department of Health and Human Services to prioritize certain grant funding to states such as New Hampshire that have been hardest hit by the crisis,” Senator Hassan added. “I will continue working across the aisle to ensure that this legislation is taken up by the full Senate as quickly as possible.”


See below for a number of the key priorities that Senator Hassan worked as a member of the Senate HELP Committee to include in the bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018:


  • Bipartisan Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act, authored by Senator Hassan and introduced with Senator 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.


  • Training more new doctors to prescribe medication-assisted treatment. The bill contains the Enhancing Access to Addiction Treatment Act, authored by Senator Hassan and introduced along with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), to support medical schools and residency programs in training students and residents in addiction medicine. The legislation would streamline the process for getting a waiver to prescribe medication-assisted treatment to ensure that students or residents who receive training can apply to prescribe medication-assisted treatment as soon as they graduate medical school, get licensed to practice medicine, and get a DEA number – the same time they are allowed to start prescribing opioids.
  • 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. This legislation enables the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to prioritize certain grant funding for states such as New Hampshire that have been hardest hit by the crisis.


  • Expanding the number of patients that doctors can treat with live-saving medication-assisted treatment. The bill contains a bipartisan amendment co-led by Senator Hassan in the HELP Committee that codifies expansion of the number of patients that qualified physicians can treat with life-saving medication-assisted treatment to 275 patients.


  • Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act. The bill contains provisions introduced by Senators Hassan, Susan Collins (R-ME), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). This bipartisan measure would address the problem of unused prescription drugs when a patient is receiving hospice care at home by permitting hospice staff to dispose of controlled substances when a patient dies or a medication expires.


  • 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.


  • Improving Addiction Recovery Homes. The bill contains key provisions of the Ensuring Access to Quality Recovery Living Act, which was introduced by Senators Hassan, Tim Kaine (D-VA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The bipartisan bill would give states the resources and guidelines necessary to ensure that recovery homes are able to effectively help residents sustain recovery from substance use disorders.


  • The 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 Senators Hassan has heard about directly from New Hampshire first responders and public safety officials.
  • 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.