House Republicans on Thursday unveiled a proposal to combat the opioid crisis, launching a three-pronged approach to stem the tide of overdose deaths, combat drug cartels and protect vulnerable populations.
The bill, the Pain Care Protection Act, is the product of a yearlong study that focused on opioid deaths and overdoses, but it also includes a broad package of safety-related reforms that could potentially include expanded access to treatment and increased access to community-based services.
The legislation would also expand access to prescription pain medication, a critical component of the prescription opioid epidemic.
The bipartisan bill would require states to spend $20 billion on prevention efforts and provide $20 million to the states to provide opioid-related services.
It would also require the Department of Health and Human Services to develop an opioid overdose prevention strategy.
“There’s a lot of money that needs to be spent on prevention, on early intervention and education,” Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, told reporters.
“We need to be investing in prevention.”
The plan would focus on two areas: the prevention of the opioid epidemic by improving access to effective and affordable treatment, and ensuring that the health of people living with opioid-addicted disorders is adequately protected.
It includes funding for community-driven prevention and intervention programs that provide comprehensive access to opioid-abuse treatment, including detox and addiction treatment.
“If we do not take immediate action, then people with opioid addiction will continue to live in a state of constant fear and anxiety,” Rep, Joe Barton, (R), said in a statement.
“The Pain Care Protect Act of 2017 would provide these individuals with the necessary tools to safely and effectively manage their addiction, while also providing them with access to quality and affordable medical care, community-led recovery programs, and other supportive services.”
While the Pain Act would make some significant changes to existing programs, including allowing people to apply for Medicaid coverage, it would not apply to existing Medicaid-eligible people.
The goal of the bill is to address the opioid-use disorder crisis by expanding access to affordable, effective treatment.
It also seeks to address other health-care needs that disproportionately affect people with addiction, including the prevention and treatment of preventable diseases and injuries.
“The Pain Act will help to ensure that we have the resources we need to treat this crisis,” said Rep. Tom Reed (R, N.Y.), who introduced the Pain Pain Protection Act.
“By investing in comprehensive prevention and emergency medical services, we will protect our nation’s most vulnerable populations, while reducing the number of opioid-impaired Americans who are living in our communities and at the hospital.”
Barton said the bill would be a “first step,” but it would also be a step in the right direction.
“This bill is a step towards ending this opioid crisis,” Barton said.
“It will give the states a more robust strategy to address this epidemic and will provide the resources that the states need to help them achieve this goal.”