Download production-quality video of Senator Brown’s opening remarks during the hearing HERE.
WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) secured critical provisions aimed at curbing the addiction epidemic in the opioid package that just passed out of the Senate Finance Committee, called the Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018.
Among the bills Brown got passed in this week’s package are:
- The Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act: Brown introduced this bill with Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Dean Heller (D-NV), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The CRIB Act would allow Medicaid to cover health care services provided to infants in residential pediatric recovery facilities in addition to hospitals. Similar to the earlier version of this bill the Senators introduced at this time last year, the latest version of this legislation would 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. Dayton, Ohio is home to Brigid’s Path, a residential treatment facility for babies with NAS.
- The Fighting the Opioid Epidemic with Sunshine Act: Brown introduced this bill with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). It would require drug companies and medical device makers to publicly disclose the payments that they make to nurse practitioners and physician assistants for promotional talks, consulting, and other interactions, just as they are required to for payments made to physicians and academic medical centers. This legislation will add additional transparency around prescribing practices and, by shining a light on the relationship between drug companies and prescriptions for opioids, help ensure greater accountability across all healthcare professionals who can prescribe controlled substances.
“Eleven Ohioans will die today of an opioid overdose, and Congress must be doing everything in our power to fight this epidemic on all fronts,” Brown said. “From making sure patients know about any drug company kickbacks going to their prescriber, to better caring for babies born with addiction and seniors on Medicare, there are many important bipartisan steps we can take right now. As these bills move through Congress, I will also keep fighting to get meaningful investments to Ohioans fighting the addiction epidemic on the front lines.”
The Senate HELP and Finance Committees are each moving forward with opioid bills in hopes of passing a broad legislative package this year. Brown is actively engaged in the work on both Committees and supporting several bills introduced by his colleagues. In April, Brown and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) secured a provision to address the workforce shortage created by the addiction crisis in the bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act that passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The provision was based on legislation the Senators introduced earlier this month called the Collectively Achieving Recovery and Employment (CARE) Act.
Brown helped secure additional provisions in the Finance Committee’s HEAL Act as well:
- Comprehensive Screenings for Seniors Act: Brown worked with Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), John Thune (R-SD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to introduce bipartisan legislation that would ensure health care providers better engage with their Medicare patients about pain management and addiction risks. This legislation would ensure doctors, nurse practitioners and other healthcare providers discuss addiction risks with patients during annual wellness visits, the same way they would discuss diabetes and other health conditions.
- Brown was an original cosponsor of several other bills that passed out of committee during today’s mark-up, including The Help for Moms and Babies Act, which will help protect pregnant and postpartum women seeking treatment for a substance use disorder at an IMD facility, and the Informing Seniors about Opioids Act, which would update the “Medicare and You” handbook to include information relevant to patients about opioid use and pain management.
- Brown was also able to get two of his amendments included in the final committee passed package.
- The first amendment will require state Medicaid programs to report on the 11 behavioral health quality measures to ensure states are providing high quality care to individuals struggling with substance use disorder and other behavioral health conditions.
- Brown’s other amendment will help clarify the implementation of the Stopping Medication Abuse and Protecting Seniors Act, a Brown bill that became law two years ago as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.
Following the passage of the Finance Committee’s bill, Brown and Portman committed to continuing to work together to pass their bipartisan legislation that would eliminate the outdated cap on the number of beds at substance abuse treatment facilities that can be covered under Medicaid. Senator Brown is also supporting Senator Portman’s Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which will work together with Brown’s INTERDICT Act to stop help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl at the border.