WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today voted for legislation that authorizes $1 billion over the next two years in federal grant funding to states who’ve been hardest-hit by the opioid epidemic. The 21st Century Cures Act, which passed in the Senate today, now heads to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law. Brown has repeatedly called for meaningful funding to combat the opioid crisis throughout the past year.
“Every time I meet with Ohioans on the front lines of the opioid crisis they tell me the number one thing they need is funding to combat this emergency – they have been begging for help and now help is finally on the way,” Brown said. “This long overdue investment in this public health crisis will send help their way by prioritizing grant money for states like Ohio that most need resources. We must build on this bipartisan effort to provide ongoing support for treatment centers, families, and healthcare providers so we can make a real impact on those who’ve been hurt by this public health emergency.”
In addition to the funding to combat the opioid epidemic, the bill includes key Brown priorities including:
- Fair coverage for mental health: The bill includes a piece of Sen. Brown’s Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Reduction Act that would require health insurance companies to provide mental health coverage to individuals in the same way they provide coverage for physical health, and provide additional enforcement for insurers that fail to ensure mental health parity.
- Pediatric Medical Research: The bill includes language to clarify Brown’s bipartisan legislation to strengthen pediatric medical research by authorizing new Pediatric Research Consortia and directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to build a nationwide research network that can share resources and information to benefit pediatric patients and their families across the country.
- Relief for hospitals serving low-income patients: The legislation helps address a hospital readmission rule that leaves some hospitals that serve low-income patients at a disadvantage. The bill will help take socioeconomic status of patients into account when evaluating a hospital’s reimbursement rate. Brown supports legislation that would build on this provision to make sure hospitals serving low-income populations are fairly evaluated and reimbursed. The legislation also ensures fair payments for hospitals with outpatient departments that were undergoing construction during a past payment policy change. Brown has written to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) twice to encourage the Agency to do this administratively.