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On the Hill: Congress Marks Up Dozens of Opioid Bills

Congress, now on a week-long recess, last week reviewed dozens of bills to combat the nation’s opioid crisis.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions marked up the Opioids Crisis Response Act of 2018 (S. 2680), which would:

  • reauthorize grants to fund treatment options and recovery centers;
  • increase flexibility for the National Institutes of Health to conduct opioid research; and
  • increase flexibility for states to address the crisis.

The committee has not indicated when the legislation will move to a floor vote.

Meanwhile, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health marked up a 64-bill opioid package. The legislation focuses on how the Food and Drug Administration approves pain medication and how government programs pay for addiction treatment. Notably, the Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) in the Emergency Department Act (H.R. 5197) was included in the markup. But lawmakers did not include a bill to align decades-old restrictions on providers’ use and disclosure of patient substance use medical records with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protections.

When they return next week, House lawmakers will continue to focus on passing an opioid package before the Memorial Day weekend.

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About the Author

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