The Senate easily passed a bill last week aimed at combating opioid abuse and overdose deaths, but Democrats said the earlier defeat of an emergency funding amendment leaves the legislation essentially powerless.
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, approved 94-1, creates grant programs for states to build education programs and develop evidence-based treatment plans. It also expands the availability of naloxone, which can reverse an opioid overdose, and strengthens prescription-monitoring programs.
An identical bill is pending in the Republican-led House of Representatives. The White House has said it supports the grant programs but believes the bill would not truly address the epidemic without funding. Republicans say there is funding in last year's spending bill that could be used for the opioid crisis.
The legislation would allow Medicare to implement programs intended to stop beneficiaries at risk for drug abuse from “doctor shopping” by requiring them to get all their prescriptions from a single prescriber and pharmacy.
On Friday, HHS announced it would award $94 million in grants to federally qualified health centers to educate providers on prescribing, support medication-assisted addiction treatment and increase access to naloxone.