On June 21, 2023, the House Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee held a legislative hearing entitled “Responding to America’s Overdose Crisis: An Examination of Legislation to Build Upon the SUPPORT Act” to evaluate how the Substance Use–Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities (SUPPORT) Act has worked to alleviate some of the burden of the overdose crisis and what more needs to be done. The SUPPORT Act was passed in 2015 and is due for reauthorization this year.

Representative Bilirakis (R-FL) spoke about his bipartisan bill “The Ensuring Medicaid Continuity for Children in Foster Care Act” which highlights the problematic classification of Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTPs) as Institutions for Mental Disease (IMDs) under Medicaid, which limits opportunities for reimbursement. This legislation would exempt QRTPs from this classification, allowing such programs to thrive and continue to treat children in foster care who need additional and more specialized care. Representative Bilirakis explains that with a shortage of foster homes, children are staying in unsuitable locations, and QRTPs help close this gap while providing qualified care. CWLA has endorsed this legislation.

While much of the conversation in this hearing did not focus on children, they are implicated in the overdose epidemic, both in that they are vulnerable to substance abuse and that they are affected by addiction when it is present around them. Substance use is a common risk factor in families that come to the attention of child welfare agencies. Representative Ruiz (D-CA) emphasized that experts, including child welfare workers, need to be included in creating legislation that best understands individuals (including children) and how to support unique recovery processes.

By Leah Sarfity and Ellison Olson, Policy Interns