House Takes Aim at US Opioid Addiction

New legislation encourages states to expand treatment through Medicaid
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 23, 2018 2:40 PM CDT
House OKs Bill Expanding Opioid Treatment
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., holds a photo of Michelle Jaskulski, one of his Wisconsin constituents, with her son Darrell, who successfully overcome an addiction to prescription drugs, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 13, 2018.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The House has overwhelmingly approved legislation designed to give health-care providers more tools to stem an opioid crisis that is killing more than 115 people in the United States daily, the AP reports. The legislation passed Friday by a vote of 396-14. It incorporates dozens of opioid-related bills that lawmakers have made a campaign-season priority. In urging the passage of the bill, many lawmakers told personal stories about how opioid abuse has affected constituents, family, and friends. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told the story of his press secretary, Erin Perrine, whose brother, Eamon, died of a drug overdose in 2016. McCarthy said she learned of his death just weeks before her wedding.

"Let that be a lesson to us all: There is no event so joyful, no place so safe, that it is untouched by the drug crisis," McCarthy said. The bill passed Friday encourages states to increase coverage of treatment for substance abuse disorders through Medicaid. Foster youth and former prisoners are among the populations targeted for enhanced coverage of their treatment. The legislation also seeks to expand the use of medications to treat opioid abuse. It would allow more health care providers to treat patients with a drug that reduces risks of overdoses. It adds methadone clinics to the Medicare program. The bill also adds incentive for doctors to use post-surgical injections as a pain-treatment alternative to opioids.

(More opioids stories.)

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