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PUBLIC POLICY UPDATES

Senate Passes Opioid Legislation


Posted on: 9/18/2018

The Senate yesterday passed a bipartisan package of 70 bills to combat the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths in a 99-1 vote, as lawmakers begin to look toward negotiations on a final compromise bill.

Lawmakers are working to address the crisis as the midterm elections approach. The Senate and House will need to work out the differences in their two packages before the final bill can go to President Donald Trump for his signature. Many do not expect that to happen until after the elections.

The Trump administration released a statement yesterday saying it supports Senate passage of the bill and plans to work with the Senate and House to “ensure that key provisions from the House are retained.” The package would authorize nearly $8 billion for grant programs, including targeted response grants for states, grants for residential treatment programs for pregnant women with substance-use disorders, and grants to support tracking and treating hepatitis C infections.

The Senate opioid package is missing two pieces of contentious legislation that were included in the House version, a provision to partially roll back a longtime restriction on federal Medicaid funds for inpatient drug treatment programs, known as the institutions for mental disease exclusion, and a provision to loosen drug treatment record privacy rules. These measures are among the differences that the House and Senate will have to work out before passing a final package.

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