Key Portman Initiatives Included in Final Opioid Package
Final Opioid Package to Include STOP Act, Legislation to Lift IMD Exclusion, the CRIB Act, CARA 2.0 Initiatives
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) applauded House and Senate negotiators for announcing a final bipartisan opioid legislative package that includes Portman’s bipartisan STOP Act and Improving CARE Act, as well as his bipartisan CRIB Act and a number of initiatives from his bipartisan CARA 2.0 Act, which builds on the progress of his Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) that became law in 2016. The full text of the legislation is here. Portman issued the following statement:
“As this opioid epidemic continues getting worse, there is no time to waste and that’s why I’m pleased the House and Senate negotiators came together so quickly on a final bipartisan legislative package,” said Portman. “We need to help more people get the long-term treatment and recovery services they need to overcome their addiction, and we need to do more to keep deadly synthetic drugs like fentanyl out of our communities. This legislation will do both. Across Ohio, what I hear as I meet with those on the frontlines of this crisis is that we need to increase the availability of treatment and combat the influx of fentanyl if we truly want to overcome this epidemic. That’s why it is so important that the STOP Act and my legislation to lift the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) Exclusion are included in this legislation.
“Lifting the IMD Exclusion is one of the most important things we can to do expand access to substance use disorder treatment right now for those who truly need it. Getting the STOP Act signed into law will be a victory in our efforts to combat the newest and deadliest aspect of this opioid crisis: the overwhelming supply of cheap, deadly synthetic drugs like fentanyl. By closing the loophole in our international mail system that drug traffickers have exploited to ship fentanyl into the U.S., we can help law enforcement keep this poison out of our communities. This legislation will give more Americans who are gripped by addiction the chance to live up to their God-given potential. Congress is committing itself to putting politics aside and delivering results for the people we represent, and I look forward to this legislative package being signed into law soon.”
NOTE: The final bipartisan, comprehensive opioid legislative package announce by the House and Senate leadership includes a number of Portman bills and priorities, including:
- The Improving Coverage for Addiction Recovery Expansion (Improving CARE) Act would lift the IMD bed cap and allow states to use Medicaid dollars to pay for coverage for substance use disorder treatment at accredited residential addiction treatment facilities for up to 90 consecutive days. The current IMD policy, created in 1965, limits Medicaid funding for residential treatment to facilities with just 16 beds or less. The Improving CARE Act would lift this outdated and unnecessary barrier so more Americans can access services at these inpatient facilities.
- The Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which will help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through our borders to drug traffickers here in the United States. The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), which Portman chairs, conducted an 18-month investigation into this issue and released a shocking bipartisan report detailing how drug traffickers exploit vulnerabilities in our international mail system to easily ship synthetic drugs like fentanyl from China into the United States though the U.S. Postal Service. The STOP Act will close the loophole that has allowed this to happen by holding the U.S. Postal Service to the same screening standard as private mail carriers and requiring them to provide Advance Electronic Data on international packages entering the U.S. This will allow law enforcement to identify suspicious packages, stop them in transit, test them, and keep more fentanyl from entering our communities. The House passed the STOP Act by a vote of 353-52 on June 14, 2018. The Senate passed it on September 17, 2018 by a vote of 99-1.
- The CRIB Act to help newborns suffering from addiction recover in the best care setting and provide support for their families. The bipartisan bill would recognize residential pediatric recovery facilities as providers under Medicaid, allowing Medicaid to cover services in these facilities in addition to hospitals. Portman recently visited CommQuest Recovery Services in Massillon, which is standing up a ‘Mom and Me’ program to help mothers struggling with addiction heal in a home-like setting with their children, as well as Brigid’s Path in Dayton, which provides short-term, inpatient care in a home-like setting for newborns suffering from prenatal drug exposure. Both would benefit from the CRIB Act.
- The legislation includes a number of provisions from Portman’s bipartisan CARA 2.0 legislation. One is a national quality standards and best practices for recovery housing to ensure that people who are transitioning out of treatment and into longer-term recovery have high-quality housing options that eliminate the gaps that so often occur in recovery. It also authorizes support programs for high school and college students to help children and young adults recover from substance abuse disorders. Finally, CARA 2.0’s contribution to the opioid legislation includes $60 million for a plan of safe care for babies born dependent on drugs with what is called neonatal assistance syndrome.
- In addition, the bill also reauthorizes a number of important programs that have a proven record of success, like the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drug Courts, Drug-Free Community prevention grants, and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas grants, which focus on drug interdiction. In 1997, Portman authored the Drug-Free Communities Act, which supports evidence-based, community-oriented drug prevention programs, and recently announced 25 new Drug-Free Communities Act grant recipients in Ohio.
Lastly, the measure includes Portman’s bipartisan Improving Access to Behavioral Health Information Technology Act (S. 1732) to help behavioral health care providers – like psychologists and psychiatric hospitals – adopt electronic health records. It authorizes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide incentives to adopt electronic health technology to behavioral health care providers and improve the coordination and quality of care for Americans with mental health, addiction, and other behavioral health care needs.