On Senate Floor, Brown Applauds Upcoming Senate Passage of Legislative Package to Fight Addiction Crisis

Brown Fought to Include Provisions to Help More Americans Access Treatment, Bolster the Work of Organizations like Brigid’s Path in Dayton, and Block Deadly Drugs from Reaching Ohio Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) took to the Senate floor last night to applaud the upcoming Senate passage of the addiction legislative package this week. The package was agreed to by both the House and Senate and passed by the House last week. Brown fought to include several key provisions in the bill that will help more Americans access addiction treatment, bolster the work of organizations like Brigid’s Path in Dayton, and block deadly drugs from reaching Ohio communities.

“There isn’t a community in Ohio that hasn’t been touched by the addiction epidemic, and we are doing all we can to fight it,” said Brown. “This crisis has taken too many lives and caused too much devastation in Ohio to become a partisan issue. I’m proud we were able to come together to craft significant, bipartisan legislation that will help more Ohioans access addiction treatment, bolster the work of organizations like Brigid’s Path in Dayton, and stop dangerous drugs at the border to keep them out of Ohio communities.”

Brown worked to ensure Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act was included in the final bill. The CRIB Act would bolster the work of treatment centers like Brigid’s Path in Dayton. Brown introduced the CRIB Act with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Rob Portman (R-OH) and helped pass it out of the Finance Committee in June. The bill 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, by allowing Medicaid to cover certain health care services provided to infants in residential pediatric recovery facilities in addition to hospitals. The bill would 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.

The final package also includes a bipartisan proposal from Senators Brown and Portman to lift the Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) exclusion, which will expand Americans’ access to treatment for opioid addiction. The IMD exclusion is an arcane, decades-old policy that prohibits states from using federal Medicaid dollars to pay for treatment at residential mental health or substance abuse facilities with more than 16 beds. This policy limits access to treatment, hampers behavioral health parity, and prevents many Americans from getting the help they need. The Senators’ bipartisan bill would lift this outdated cap for five years, covering all substance-use disorders, so more Americans can access treatment services at these inpatient facilities.

The bill will also include Senator Portman’s Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which Brown cosponsored. The STOP Act will work together with Brown’s INTERDICT Act, which Portman supported, to stop deadly drugs from reaching Ohio communities. Brown’s INTERDICT Act was signed into law by President Trump in March. The STOP Act will require specific information about packages and shipments coming into the U.S. from foreign countries to help Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) better identify packages that may contain deadly, dangerous drugs like fentanyl. The INTERDICT Act provided new screening devices, laboratory equipment, facilities, and personnel for 24x7 lab support for CBP agents to safely test those packages.

The bill included several other important wins for Ohio. Learn more HERE.

Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, can be found below:

Floor Statement for Senator Sherrod Brown – Addiction Legislative Package

October 2, 2018

Mr./Madame President,

Everyone in this chamber knows how bad the opioid crisis is. In Ohio, based on the averages, eleven people will die today of a drug overdose.

We have a long way to go to fight this, but right now we’re taking an important step to get resources to communities doing innovative work, and to tear down red tape regulations that prevent people from getting treatment.

This week we’re passing a comprehensive package of legislation to fight addiction, including several bills important to Ohio.

I worked with my Republican colleague Senator Capito on our bipartisan CRIB Act, to support treatment centers for babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome, like Brigid’s Path in Dayton.

Brigid’s Path is one of just two residential treatment centers like this in the country. I’m meeting with folks from Brigid’s Path in our office tomorrow, to talk with them about the important work they’re doing in Ohio.

N-A-S is caused by the use of opioids or other addictive substances during pregnancy, and has become a growing challenge for families and health care providers in states like Ohio.

Recent studies show that cases of NAS have tripled over the past decade. Right now, these babies are usually treated in the neonatal intensive care unit, known as NICU, where treatment costs are more than five times the cost of treating other newborns.

But given the bright lights and loud noises, the NICU is not always the best place for newborns struggling with withdrawal.

Residential pediatric recovery facilities like Brigid’s Path can give these infants specialized care, as well as counseling for mothers and families, in a setting outside the chaos of a hospital.

These unique venues are relatively new, and the CRIB Act will allow them to bill Medicaid for the services they offer, expanding options for care for the thousands of babies who need specialized treatment.

This package will also lift the cap on the number of beds at Medicaid-funded treatment facilities for five years, something Senator Portman and I have worked on for a long time.

And it includes Senator Portman’s STOP Act that I’ve supported, and that will work with my INTERDICT Act to help keep illegal fentanyl off Ohio streets.

We know we have more work to do to fight this crisis, and to get more resources to communities in Ohio.

But this package is an important, bipartisan step forward, and I hope we can get this to the president’s desk and signed into law soon.

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