Opioid bill passes in Congress, but remains unfunded

July 15, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Drug Prescribing/Dispensing Patient Care 

Congress broke a months-long stalemate this past week with the Senate’s passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which authorizes the federal government to award state grants for opioid-related initiatives around education, prevention, treatment and recovery efforts. However, the efforts will not be fully realized until there are resources applied to fund the bill.

The legislation authorizes, but doesn't appropriate funding, for programs to combat opioid misuse, in addition to increasing the availability of naloxone, a drug to treat overdoses.

The medical community and the American Medical Association (AMA) applauded the vote, but called on Congress to authorize funding for it. “This legislation represents an important step in addressing the public health epidemic of opioid misuse,” said Patrice Harris, M.D., chair of the AMA Board of Trustees and chair of the AMA Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse. “But it will not be fully realized without new resources to support these programs and policies.”

CARA, which also incorporates elements of the 18 opioid-related bills passed by the House in May, includes provisions to do the following:

  • Authorize grants for opioid-related initiatives around education, prevention, treatment and recovery

  • Improve prescription drug monitoring programs

  • Expand access to the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone

  • Create training programs for providers to test co-prescription for at-risk patients

  • Establish an interagency task force that will examine best practices for pain management and pain medication prescription

  • Raise awareness and education around the safe care of infants born affected by illegal substances

  • Require the Government Accountability Office to track and report on the capacity for inpatient and outpatient treatment for opioid use disorders


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