WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today issued the following statement on passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).

“This legislation will give law enforcement, health care professionals, and communities new tools for combatting the opioid epidemic across the country,” said Brown. “While we have taken a bipartisan step forward today, this bill alone is not enough. We must recognize the opioid epidemic for what it is – a public health emergency – and invest the real dollars it takes to combat it. The longer we wait to approve emergency funding for opioid treatment services and prevention, the more loved ones and neighbors we’ll lose to this epidemic.” 

Brown supported CARA and continued his call for a comprehensive, funded approach to solving the opioid crisis from prevention to recovery. Today, Brown joined several of his Senate colleagues in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to request a vote on emergency funding for the opioid epidemic. The letter can be found here.

The bill included several provisions authored or supported by Brown, including:

  • A provision to create a lock-in program within Medicare to curb addiction: The Stopping Medication Abuse and Protecting Seniors Act will put in place an effective drug abuse prevention plan already operating in Medicaid and commercial plans in Medicare. The plan identifies beneficiaries at risk of addiction in Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage and locks them into one prescriber and one pharmacy to help manage potential addiction.
  • A provision to strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs’ opioid prescribing guidelines: The Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act will provide safer and more effective pain management services to our nation’s veterans. According to a 2011 study from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), patients seeking care at VA clinics are nearly twice as likely to die from accidental poisonings – frequently from opioid medications – when compared with patients outside the VA health system.
  • A provision to require a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on residential pediatric treatment facilities, like Brigid’s Path in Dayton. The Nurturing and Supporting (NAS) Healthy Babies Act will examine the prevalence of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in communities and how Medicaid could help pay for these services.
  • Expanded use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT): CARA will allow certain physicians assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe MAT if they meet specific criteria. Last week, Brown applauded news that the Obama Administration lifted caps on the number of patients a physical can treat using MAT. Brown is a cosponsor of The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT) Act, which would build on CARA and the Administration’s announcement.