Includes $1 Billion to Fight Opioid Abuse & Portman-Led Measures to Strengthen Medicare & Medicaid

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) today announced that the “21st Century Cures” initiative, a $6.3 billion medical innovation package that is designed to accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of new cures and treatments that passed the Senate with his support last week, has been signed into law by the president. Portman urged that opioid funding be included in the package, and it includes $1 billion in new funding for state grants to fight opioid abuse. The measure also includes a number of Portman initiatives to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid.  Following the passage of the bill, Senator Portman released the following statement:

“With one Ohioan dying of an overdose of heroin or prescription drugs every three hours, our state is in a crisis. But help is on the way. This summer, Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, or CARA, which authorized $181 million in new funding to fight this epidemic, and now, with the 21st Century Cures Act, Congress has authorized another $1 billion in funding over the next two years to deal with this national emergency. This new law also strengthens Medicare to help cancer patients, seniors on Medicare Advantage, and seniors with disabilities. I am proud to have voted for it because it will make a difference in the lives of so many of the most vulnerable in Ohio and across the country.””

NOTE: Following is a summary of notable provisions included at Portman’s request in the 21st Century Cures package:  

  • $1 billion to fight opioid abuse. The bill includes additional opioid funding: $500 million annually over the next two years for state block grants that can be used for improving prescription drug monitoring programs, prevention, training for health care workers, and improving access to treatment for individuals struggling with a substance use disorder. This money would complement the increases in opioid funding Portman has secured through the annual appropriations process.
  • Establishes beneficiary equity in the hospital readmissions program (S. 688). This measure will minimize the disincentives for hospitals who serve a disproportionate number of sicker and poorer patients. This provision will improve the fairness of hospital readmissions penalties by taking into account the patients’ socioeconomic and dual-eligible status to ensure that hospitals can continue to care for the most vulnerable patients.  This benefits a majority of Ohio hospitals, especially those who serve a large number of low-income, vulnerable populations.
  • Continues Medicare payment for hospital out-patient departments that were “under-development”. This measure will provide critical relief to hospitals (including several throughout Ohio) that were in the middle of building facilities to serve patients in their communities when Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act in 2015. This provision ensures patients are able to maintain access to these facilities so they can continue to receive high-quality care in outpatient settings.  
  • Exempts designated cancer hospitals from Medicare payment reductions. This measure ensures patients are able to continue to receive cancer care from outpatient facilities in their community, benefitting the OSU James Cancer Hospital in Columbus.
  • Delays the application of the competitive bidding program to complex rehabilitative technology wheelchair accessories (S. 2196). This measure ensures people with disabilities will continue to have access to the complex wheelchair accessories they rely on to live a fully-functioning life.
  • Protects Medicare Advantage for all seniors (S. 2104). This measure would strengthen transparency and ensure that seniors can keep the Medicare Advantage (MA) plans they want by delaying CMS’s authority to terminate certain MA plans because of the STARS rating system.

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