June 22, 2018

Luján Supports Passage of Opioids Package, More Work to Do

Complete Opioids Package Includes Nine Luján Bills

[Washington, D.C.]– Today, the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, the “Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act.” This bipartisan legislation includes multiple bills authored by Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), including measures increasing substance use provider capacity in Medicaid, drug management programs for at-risk beneficiaries in Medicare and Medicaid, and improved guidance for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome and their moms.

“Communities are struggling under the burden of the opioid epidemic. Though this bill is not a silver bullet, it’s a step in the right direction. Still, we must do much more,” said Luján.

Importantly, this package includes Congressman Luján’s provision expanding the types of providers who can treat patients with buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).  Currently, only physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants can treat patients with OUD. H.R. 6 would expand access to Medication Assistance Treatment (MAT) by authorizing clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists to treat up to one hundred patients with OUD with buprenorphine for five years.

“Life is hard for moms who live an hour away from a grocery store and two hours away from their health care provider. You don’t just run out for milk, and you don’t just get another doctor to prescribe you buprenorphine when you are struggling with addiction,” said Luján. “Advanced Practice Nurses are integral to ensuring rural families have access to health care. It’s important to remember that Midwives care for rural women, and particularly Native American women, from birth until death. These moms and families are struggling. I am grateful that Congress has recognized the need to expand the types of providers who can treat patients with buprenorphine. This provision will go a long way in expanding access to treatment for families in rural areas.”

While this package is a good start, truly turning the tide of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in our history requires a sustained, long-term, and substantial investment in our treatment infrastructure. In addition, the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans must end their relentless attacks on quality, affordable health insurance for all Americans. The Trump administration’s most recent attempt to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by refusing to defend the law in court would rip health care away from millions of Americans, slap an age tax on older adults, and allow insurance companies to discriminate against the one in four Americans with pre-existing conditions.

“Though I am proud that Democrats and Republicans were able to work together on the bill we passed today, I am concerned that our Republican colleagues continue to do everything they can to strip Medicaid coverage from millions of people, take protections away from people with preexisting conditions, and sell junk insurance plans to people struggling to make ends meet. I hope that one day we can put aside the partisanship and continue to work together like we did on this opioids package.”

Congressman Luján was instrumental in the passage of a total of nine bipartisan opioid bills that will be sent to the Senate for consideration, including three that passed last week.