WASHINGTON, D.C. ― Four bills authored by U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) aimed at addressing the on-going opioid crisis were passed unanimously by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The markup follows three legislative hearings in the Subcommittee on Health.
“Advancing this package to address the opioid crisis is a step in the right direction. My state has been struggling for generations. Today, addiction affects great-grandparents and grandchildren alike. That’s why I think this package is important. However, we can’t be done here. We need to do more for the people struggling back home,” Luján said.
Luján’s first bill, the Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act of 2018 (H.R. 5327), which is sponsored by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-OH), Gene Green (D-TX), and Larry Buschon (R-IN), establishes a grant program to fund at least 10 comprehensive opioid centers across the country. Each opioid recovery center would provide a range of treatment and recovery services including drug and withdrawal management therapies, peer support and counseling, and job training and placement programs. Luján offered an amendment, which was accepted unanimously, to expand these treatment centers to include prevention services.
“Prevention services are vital to long term change if we really are serious about addressing this crisis,” Luján said.
This bill directs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide labeling guidance for non-addictive pain medication. This labeling guidance will allow prescribers to better understand how to use non-opioid pain medications to treat patients.
“I come from a blue-collar district with iron workers and ranchers and a whole lot of jobs where wear and tear on the body is inevitable. It’s simply unrealistic to think we won’t have people who need access to pain management options. Non-addictive pain management therapies are important to ensure that people can live their lives pain-free and not have to worry about the scourge of addiction,” Luján said.
The third measure requires Medicare Part D plans to receive and approve electronic prior authorization requests for prescription coverage. The Standardizing Electronic Prior Authorization for Safe Prescribing Act (H.R. 4841) was introduced by Luján, Reps. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Bill Johnson (R-OH), and Mike Thompson (D-CA) earlier this year. The bill is designed to improve access to needed medications for Medicare beneficiaries.
The last bill, H.R. 5675, requires prescription drug plan sponsors under the Medicare program to establish drug management programs for at-risk beneficiaries. Co-authored with Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), this legislation aims to curb the practice of high-volume opioid users soliciting multiple pharmacies under false pretenses to obtain prescription opioids to abuse, sell, or distribute unlawfully.
All four of Luján’s bills were previously the subjects of hearings and other consideration by the Health Subcommittee.