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Bipartisan Opioid Bill Becomes Law

Last week, President Trump signed long-awaited bipartisan legislation, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), to combat the opioid epidemic through various measures, including how hospitals prescribe opioids and manage pain.

The new law, which represents the federal government’s first comprehensive policy response to the nation’s opioid crisis, aims to advance treatment and recovery initiatives, improve prevention, protect communities, and bolster efforts to fight deadly illicit synthetic drugs.

The legislation includes provisions directing the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to review and determine whether Medicare reimbursements offer financial incentives to prescribe opioids rather than non-opioid alternative treatments.

The final legislation does not align confidentiality regulations for substance use disorder treatment records (42 CFR Part 2) with HIPAA privacy standards. America’s Essential Hospitals advocated for including this provision in the final bill and will continue to support bipartisan efforts in Congress to amend 42 CFR Part 2 to help improve care coordination for patients.

America’s Essential Hospitals has reviewed the final legislative text and sent an Action Update that summarizes provisions relevant to essential hospitals. The association will continue to monitor the implementation of these provisions and provide updates when demonstration projects and grant funding become available.

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About the Author

Erin Delaney is the legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.