Senate Passes Landmark Opioid Reforms, Including Portman’s STOP Act
Bill Sent to the President’s Desk Includes Portman’s STOP Act, Legislation to Lift IMD Exclusion, the CRIB Act & CARA 2.0 Initiatives
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) praised the Senate for passing the final House-Senate opioid package – landmark reforms which include Portman’s bipartisan STOP Act and Improving CARE Act, as well as his bipartisan CRIB Act and several key initiatives from his bipartisan CARA 2.0 Act. The bill is now ready for the president’s signature. Portman issued the following statement:
“This bill is a major victory for Ohio and for the country because it will strengthen the federal government’s response to the opioid crisis. Importantly, this bill will increase access to long-term treatment and recovery while also helping stop the flow of deadly synthetic drugs like fentanyl from being shipped into the United States through our own Postal Service. I’ve worked for more than two years to get the STOP Act signed into law and it will help keep poison like fentanyl out of our communities. I’m also proud that we are lifting the IMD exclusion, an arcane, decades-old policy that is preventing more Americans from getting the treatment they need. I thank the president for his support throughout this process, and I’m proud that he will now get to sign this bill into law.”
NOTE: The final bipartisan, comprehensive opioid legislative package (text here) includes a number of Portman bills and priorities, including:
- 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 Improving Coverage for Addiction Recovery Expansion (Improving CARE) Act, as included in the final legislation, 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 30 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 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.
- The Enhancing Access to Addiction Treatment Act will support medical schools and residency programs in training students and residents in addiction medicine in order to allow more new doctors to prescribe medication-assisted treatment to help combat the fentanyl, heroin, and opioid epidemic and saves lives. The bipartisan legislation would also 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.
- The measure includes Portman’s bipartisan Improving Access to Behavioral Health Information Technology Act 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.
- Lastly, the bill includes Portman’s Equitable Access to Care and Health (EACH) Act to help expand religious freedoms to individuals that have been wrongfully impacted by the Affordable Care Act. Simultaneously, it will help reduce the overall deficit and will be used to pay for the opioid package.