The House of Representatives is voting on a number of bills to mitigate the opioid crisis in the next week that would address both treatment of addicts and detection of illegal opioid substances.
H.R. 5795 would allow state Medicaid programs to fund mental health treatment facilities with more than 16 beds if the additional beds are for those who have an opioid addiction. Currently, there is a federal ban on funding institutions for mental disease (IMD) with more than 16 beds with Medicaid money.
H.R. 3692 authorizes clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and registered nurse anesthetists to prescribe buprenorphine, a drug that helps opioid addicts during withdrawal. Expanding the amount of medical professionals who can prescribe the drug may help patients in need get it faster.
The bill also expands the amount of patients a medical practitioner can treat at once. This is important because many areas are lacking sufficient professionals to treat those suffering from addiction. It may, however, overload already thinly stretched medical providers, according to a study by Avalere Health.
H.R. 5580 directs the Department of Health and Human Services to give grants to state and local governments in order to establish laboratories to detect fentanyl. This can help test potential illicit drugs faster, and also detect the purity of drugs — important information that can help health officials understand the supply of fentanyl in their communities. (RELATED: Prosecutions For Fentanyl-Related Crimes Are Up More Than 300 Percent Since 2016)
The bills are all expected to come to the House floor by the end of next Friday as part of H.R. 6, a package including several different proposals related to the opioid crisis.
“All too often we hear stories of loved ones exposed to opioids-and then quickly addicted-from routine surgeries that may not have required opioid treatment in the first place. This can be prevented,” H.R. 6 co-sponsor and Republican Texas Rep. Kevin Brady wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday in The Hill.
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