The Senate voted almost unanimously voted to pass a sweeping opioid package intended to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic, with provisions to prevent illegal drug shipments from entering the United States, encourage innovative research on pain treatments, extend support for those seeking substance abuse, and provide help for babies born addicted to opioids.
The package overwhelmingly passed the House at the end of September. The legislation will now be sent to the White House, providing lawmakers fodder just ahead of the November midterm elections.
The bill includes legislation developed by dozens of lawmakers – a rare bipartisan response to the opioid crisis that killed more than 42,000 people in 2016 and cost citizens more than $500 billion in substance abuse treatment, criminal justice, reduced productivity, and lives lost according to the Council of Economic Advisors, the agency charged with advising the President on economic issues affecting the country.
The bill includes legislation that will help the United States Post Office stop dangerous synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped across U.S. borders to drug traffickers.
The package also includes legislation to encourage the development of non-opioid medications and increase research on innovative ways to treat pain, actions the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network applauded.
Other measures include allowing states to use Medicaid dollars to pay for coverage for substance use disorder treatment at accredited residential addiction treatment facilities for up to 30 consecutive days. The package also provides treatment for babies born with newborn abstinence syndrome (NAS) as well as support for their mother suffering from opioid use disorder.