Brown Secures Bill to Expand Treatment for Babies Exposed to Opioids in Senate Package

Senator’s Bipartisan Bill with Capito, Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act, Would Bolster the Work of Organizations like Brigid’s Path in Dayton

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has secured several provisions to help Ohio combat the addiction epidemic in a legislative package currently being negotiated the Senate, including his Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act. Brown introduced the CRIB Act with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and helped pass it out of the Finance Committee in June. The bill is now part of a larger package to address the opioid crisis that is being negotiated in the Senate.  

“We need to get this legislation through the Senate soon, to support the most vulnerable victims of the opioid crisis, and make sure all babies and their caregivers can get care in a setting that meets their special needs,” said Brown.

  • Brown’s CRIB Act would help newborns suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a withdrawal condition often caused by the use of opioids and other addictive substances in pregnant women.
  • The bill would allow Medicaid to cover certain health care services provided to infants in residential pediatric recovery facilities in addition to hospitals and also clarify that babies receiving services in residential pediatric recovery centers can continue to receive services after one year of age, and provide for activities to encourage caregiver-infant bonding. 

Brown was joined on a news conference call today by Jill Kingston, the CEO of Brigid’s Path in Dayton, one of two residential treatment centers in the U.S. that specializes in treating babies with NAS.

“Babies born exposed to opioids are the most vulnerable victims of this epidemic. It is imperative to create a continuum of care for these babies, so that they and their families can get the right services at the right time in the right setting. Under current federal law, pediatric recovery centers like Brigid’s Path are not eligible to receive Medicaid reimbursement. But passage of the CRIB Act can change this by creating a pathway to Medicaid reimbursement for pediatric recovery centers like Brigid’s Path,” said Ms. Kingston.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a withdrawal condition often caused by use of opioids and other addictive substances in pregnant women. Babies with NAS are usually treated in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where treatment costs can be more than five times the cost of treating other newborns. With the bright lights and loud noises, the NICU is not always the best place for newborns suffering from withdrawal.

Residential pediatric recovery facilities, an alternative setting to a NICU, offer specialized care and an environment conducive to treating newborns with NAS, as well as counseling for mothers and families that emphasizes caregiver-infant bonding. The CRIB Act, which Brown has been pushing since 2016, would allow Medicaid to reimburse for covered Medicaid services in residential pediatric recovery facilities in addition to hospitals.

Studies show that cases of NAS have tripled over the past decade. In Ohio alone, NAS increased six-fold between 2004-2011, from 14 cases per 10,000 live births in 2004 to 88 cases per 10,000 live births in 2011. In 2015, the Ohio Department of Health released data that there had been 2,174 hospital admissions for NAS, and reported that an average of 84 infants were being treated for drug withdrawal by Ohio hospitals every day.

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