WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), and Angus King (I-ME), along with U.S. Reps. Mike Turner (R-OH-10) and Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) this week introduced new, bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help newborns suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a withdrawal condition often caused by use of opioids and other addictive substances in pregnant women. The Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act would recognize residential pediatric recovery facilities as providers under Medicaid, allowing them to bill Medicaid for the services they offer. The bill does not cost additional money but allows babies to receive quality care in the best setting.
“There isn’t a community in Ohio that hasn’t been touched by the opioid abuse epidemic, and we are doing all we can to fight it,” Brown said. “Too many victims of this epidemic are the infants born to mothers who struggle with addiction. One promising new option to care for newborns suffering from withdrawal is a residential pediatric recovery facility, which gives specialized care in an environment conducive to treating newborns with NAS, along with counseling for mothers and families. My bipartisan legislation would expand options for care for the thousands of babies who need specialized treatment by recognizing these residential pediatric recovery facilities as providers under Medicaid. The opioid epidemic is causing real, significant damage to our communities – we must do all we can to help the most vulnerable among us suffering as a result of the cycle of addiction.”
“Every 25 minutes, a baby suffering from opiate withdrawal is born. In West Virginia, that rate is approximately three times the national average,” said Capito. “With cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome on the rise, the focus needs to be ensuring that babies experiencing withdrawals have access to specialized care and a range of treatment options. This type of care is already available at Lily’s Place in West Virginia, and the CRIB Act will make it easier for other states to create similar treatment facilities.”
“The pain caused by America’s opioid epidemic knows no bounds, affecting even our youngest and most innocent members of society,” said King. “As we work to tackle this crisis in our communities, expanding treatment options for newborns and their mothers who have been exposed to opioids must be part of the solution. By giving states the choice to recognize residential pediatric recovery facilities as providers under Medicaid, this bill can increase options for young families struggling with this heartbreaking situation so that babies affected by the relentless wave of addiction receive the quality care they need.”
“I am proud to lead this effort in the House and fight for those who are born addicted to opioids. This bill would help organizations like Brigid’s Path, which provide inpatient medical care for drug-exposed newborns,” said Turner. “The opioid epidemic has swept through our communities and we must work together to end addiction for those innocent children beginning their lives.”
“Heroin and prescription drug addiction is destroying lives, disrupting families and destabilizing communities here in Ohio and across our nation,” said Ryan. “We are working in Washington to begin to stem this tide, but it is important that we do not forget our youngest victims of this epidemic – those children that are forced to begin their lives in withdrawal. These children did not choose this path, and we must do everything in our power to ensure that they get the care and treatment they need to live a long and health life.”
Because newborns with NAS require specialized care, caring for these babies can result in longer hospital stays and increased costs. These babies are usually treated in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and treatment costs are more than five times the cost of treating other newborns.
The CRIB Act would allow Medicaid to cover these services in residential pediatric recovery facilities in addition to hospitals. An alternative setting to a NICU, residential pediatric recovery facilities offer specialized care and an environment conducive to treating newborns with NAS, as well as counseling for mothers and families that emphasizes family bonding.