Bipartisan Opioid Task Force reveals bills meant to tackle opioid crisis and support affected communities

Bipartisan Opioid Task Force reveals bills meant to tackle opioid crisis and support affected communities

The Bipartisan Opioid Task Force has revealed its 2020 Legislative Agenda, introducing a mix of bills to both fight the opioid epidemic and support hard-hit communities.

“The opioid crisis has unfortunately had devastating impacts on the North Country,” U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, task force member and a co-lead on a number of the bills, said. “This legislative agenda includes many bipartisan bills that I am proud to co-lead and cosponsor in order to address this epidemic from all angles. It is so important that we equip our health care providers, first responders, and community members with the resources and the tools they need to continue to combat addiction issues.”

Among the bills included in this agenda are the John S. McCain Opioid Addiction Prevention Act, the Fentanyl Sanctions Act, the Community Re-Entry through Addiction Treatment to Enhance (CREATE) Opportunities Act, the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction Act, the Suspicious Order Identification Act, and the Block, Report and Suspend Suspicious Shipments Act.

The first would limit first opioid prescriptions to seven-day supplies, in the cases of temporary, injury-caused pain. The Fentanyl Sanction Act would sanction both Chinese drug manufacturers that provide synthetic opioids to criminal entities that mix and traffic them into the U.S. and the financial institutions that assist them. The CREATE Opportunities Act would make a new Department of Justice program for distributing grants in support of local programs and medication-assisted treatment for jailed opioid-use disorder patients.

The Non-Opioids effort to combat addiction seeks to shore up the payment disincentives practitioners currently face in prescribing non-opioid treatment alternatives following surgery. The Suspicious Order Identification Act would require registrants with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to electronically report every sale, delivery, or disposal of controlled substances within 30 days, with a data-sharing platform established to monitor suspicious orders. Lastly, the Block, Report and Suspend Suspicious Shipments Act would force drug manufacturers and distributors who stumble upon such orders for the halt and report the shipments.

Others, with Stefanik at the helm, include the Opioid Workforce Act, which would fund 1,000 residency positions at hospitals working to make residency programs in addiction medicine; the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which would strike the requirement that health care providers gain special waivers from the DEA before prescribing buprenorphine for treating addiction; and the Community Service Block Grant Reauthorization Act, which would expand transparency at all levels of government and emphasize innovation and evidence-based practices.