Congress approves opioid bill, expands access to addiction treatment

October kicked off with Congress approving the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, which aims to:

  • Improve access to treatment options for drug addiction
  • Invest (approximately) $8 billion in both research regarding opioid alternatives as well as law enforcements efforts to curb illegal drug use.

The drug epidemic killed more than 72,000 people in the U.S. in 2017 alone.

Members of Congress added two provisions to the bill to increase the public’s access to treatment options:

  • The first would repeal the decades-old “institutions for mental disease” (IMD) exclusion and allow Medicaid to cover residential treatment in facilities with 16 or more beds
  • The other would allow Medicare to pay for methadone treatment for the estimated 25,000 patients who are 65 and older and currently receiving such treatment. This coverage would go into effect in January 2020

While advocacy groups acknowledge these are positive steps in the right direction, several, including the Harm Reduction Coalition, recommended $100 billion more in federal spending to provide treatment and expand access to the overdose-reversing drug Naloxone. President Trump previously promised to sign the bill into law.


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