YOUNGSTOWN, OH –U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a roundtable with Mahoning Valley healthcare providers and addiction treatment experts as the Senate is set to pass his Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act as part of a larger addiction package on Monday. Brown introduced the CRIB Act with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and helped pass it out of the Finance Committee in June. The bill is set to be voted on Monday by the Senate after which it will be reconciled with a package of House bills also related to the addiction epidemic.
“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 at the roundtable by neonatologists, OB/GYNs, addiction treatment providers, and medical directors. Organizations represented at the roundtable included: Mercy Health, Akron Children’s Hospital, Mahoning County Health Commissioner’s Office, and Meridian Healthcare.
“As our Country continues to battle the opioid epidemic and infant mortality, we are grateful to collaborate on a local level with many community agencies and partners to develop innovative solutions to this public health issue. We are appreciative to have opportunities such as today, to further discuss the changing market needs and share insight and ideas with leaders such as Senator Brown,” said Don Kline, CEO of Mercy Health – Youngstown.
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.