On Wednesday and Thursday, April 27 and 28, the House Energy and Commerce passed a series of 11 bills in response to the opioid/heroin addiction problem.  The bills ranged from a new GAO report to better regulation of prescription medication and control through the FDA and other federal government oversight.  The bills acted on include:

  • H.R. 1818, (Congressman Adam Kinzinger R-IL), creates a demonstration program to streamline emergency medical technician state requirements for veterans who have already completed military emergency medical technician training.
  • H.R. 3250,(Congressman Bill Johnson, R-OH), that prohibits the sale of a drug containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to an individual under 18, unless the individual has a prescription.
  • H.R. 3680, (Congressman John Sarbanes, D-MD), which establishes a grant program for co- prescribing opioid reversal drugs for patients who are at a high risk of overdose.
  • H.R. 3691, (Congressman Ben Lujan, D-NM), that would reauthorize a residential treatment program that provides services to pregnant women or postpartum women facing substance abuse.
  • H.R. 4586, (Congressman Bob Dold, R-IL and Congresswoman Katherine Clark, D-MA), a bill that amends the Public Health Service Act to authorize grants to states for developing standing orders for naloxone prescriptions and educating health care professionals regarding the dispensing of opioid overdose reversal medication.
  • H.R. 4599, (Congresswoman Katherine Clark, D-MA) and Congressman Steve Stivers, R-OH), that amends the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to clarify when a prescription for a drug listed on Schedule II of the CSA may be partially filled.
  • H.R. 4641, Congresswoman Susan Brooks, R-IN), that would establish an inter-agency task force to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and how pain medication is prescribed.
  • H.R. 4969, (Congressman Pat Meehan, R-PA, Congressman Ron Kind, D-WI and Rep. Marc Veasey, D-TX), that would amend the Public Health Service Act to direct HHS to study what is available to youth athletes and families regarding the dangers of opioid use and abuse, non-opioid treatment options, and how to seek addiction treatment.
  • H.R. 4976, (Congressman Sean Maloney, D-NY) and Congressman Leonard Lance , R-NJ), requiring the FDA to work closely with advisory committees before making critical product approval and labeling decisions.
  • H.R. 4978, (Congressman Evan Jenkins, R-WV and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, D-IL), that would require the Comptroller General of the United States to issue a one-year report on neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
  • H.R. 4981, (Congressman Larry Bucshon,, R-IN and Congressman Paul Tonko,  D-NY), to amend the Controlled Substances Act to expand access to medication-assisted treatment, while minimizing the potential for drug diversion.
  • H.R. 4982, (Congressman Bill Foster, D-IL and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., D-NJ), that would require the Comptroller General to issue a report to Congress on substance abuse treatment availability and infrastructure needs throughout the United States.

The bills set up the possibility of a more global negotiation with the Senate regarding its earlier CARA Act. The Senate bill amends several federal laws to increase potential funding for treatment, enforcement and prevention.

The bill creates new oversight and task forces through HHS and makes a number of changes to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968.  A provision directs state substance abuse and criminal justice agencies to jointly address the use of opioids and heroin among pregnant and parenting female offenders in a state and to promote public safety, public health, and family permanence and well-being.  It also directs the Attorney General to issue regular reports on the use of family based treatment for custodial parents and their children.

The legislation amends the Public Health Services Act by authorizing the Center for Substance-Abuse Treatment to award grants that would enable state substance abuse agencies, local governments, nonprofits, and Indian tribes are tribal organizations to better address and target big increases in heroin and other opioids use.