Congress opens new front in war on opioid epidemic database node

The legislation comes a few weeks after congress passed a budget deal to add $6 billion over two years to fight opioid abuse. Congress is expected to pass the funding in a long-term, two-year spending deal later this month.

The white house could give a major boost. Administration officials held a summit thursday on the issue, and president trump said at the event he wants “very strong” penalties on opioid companies and drug dealers.

Experts have said that opioid abuse is a contributor to the declining life expectancy in the U.S. Opioids killed more than 42,000 people in 2016, more than any other year on record, according to the centers for disease control and prevention.Chronic pain

The energy and commerce committee doesn’t expect to add new funding in the bills it is considering, said committee chairman greg walden, R-ore.

“we may need more, but a lot of what we hearing is not necessarily money, it is changes in policy,” walden told reporters after an event at the U.S. Chamber of commerce thursday.

The committee’s health subcommittee held a legislative hearing wednesday on the eight bills. Some of the bills focused on giving the drug enforcement administration more tools to crack down on shipments of illicit fentanyl, a powerful opioid that is 100 times more potent than morphine. The tools include giving DEA more flexibility to attack illegal versions of fentanyl and giving the agency the authority to seize shipments of pill encapsulating machines.Opioid abuse

Walden said the committee is planning more hearings in the coming months on other aspects of the epidemic. He hopes to get legislation through the house by the memorial day recess.

The 2016 ensuring patient access and effective drug enforcement act weakened the DEA’s ability to go after suspicious shipments of opioids from drug distributors to doctors who sell the pills on the black market. The pharmaceutical industry worked to weaken the bill’s enforcement provisions, according to a washington post report in october.

The scandal caused rep. Tom marino, R-pa., to withdraw his nomination to serve as the white house’s drug czar. Marino was a driving force behind the legislation.Chronic pain

Meanwhile, on the senate side, eight bipartisan senators introduced the comprehensive addiction and recovery act 2.0, hoping to build on a bill passed in 2016 with the same name. The new bill would provide $1 billion in resources to enforcement and treatment for opioid abuse.

It also features several reforms such as a three-day limit on an initial opioid prescription for acute pain. There would be exceptions for chronic pain or an ongoing illness.

A major driver of the epidemic has been overprescribing. Doctors for years prescribed powerful opioids for acute pain that lasts for only a few weeks or months as opposed to chronic pain that lasts more than six months, the CDC has said.Costs associated

Other reforms include requiring physicians and pharmacists to use their state prescription drug monitoring program when prescribing or dispensing opioids. A prescription drug monitoring program is an electronic database that tracks opioids and other controlled substances in a state.

Sen. Sheldon whitehouse, D-R.I., wants the bill to eliminate a provision that limits medicaid funding to mental health treatment facilities. The medicaid institutions for mental diseases, also known as IMD, exclusion prohibits medicaid funding from going toward residential mental health and substance abuse treatment centers that have larger than 16 beds.

“that is something we have thought about and haven’t been able to reach agreement,” whitehouse said this week, referring to getting rid of the exclusion.Costs associated “I don’t want to speak for others but there are supposedly significant costs associated with it.“

Whitehouse doubts there are significant costs associated with ending the exclusion because getting more people treatment would lead to lower federal funding for medicaid.

It is not clear if the house and senate will package CARA with the opioid bills. Whitehouse said that there has been some conversation with the house, but not about combining the legislation at this point.