It isn’t a secret that there is little love lost between elected officials on both sides of the aisle in American politics. The endless news cycle about what is happening in all three branches of government is at times hard to watch regardless of where one’s affiliation rests. Nevertheless, with lives hanging in the balance owing to an addiction epidemic, it is paramount that partisans look past their differences and at least try to enact legislation to combat the ever-rising death toll linked to substance use and use disorder.
In a divided nation, interestingly, it seems the only thing Senators and members of the House can agree on is addressing the scourge of opioids and other drugs with the power to kill. With each passing year, the annual overdose death toll continues to elevate exponentially. It is hard to disagree with enacting common-sense legislation that could lead to mitigating the pernicious effects of mind-altering substances.
In recent years, lawmakers have reached across the aisle to change public policy; to make it harder for individuals to acquire dangerous narcotics, expand access to evidence-based addiction treatment, and make the overdose reversal drug naloxone more readily available. Notably, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) requires insurance companies and group health plans to provide benefits for mental illness and substance use treatment and services that are on par with how they cover medical/surgical care. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA), among other things, expanded the availability of naloxone and access to addiction treatment services, and strengthened prescription drug monitoring programs.
Bipartisan Opioid Bill Package
This week, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate achieved something that many thought unthinkable, bipartisan agreement on a 653-page bill designed to address addiction and overdose, The New York Times reports. It is impossible to cover everything in the package, but some of the critical facets include a measure that will hopefully make it harder to smuggle dangerous synthetic opioids like fentanyl into the country.
The agreement reached by lawmakers could allow more Medicaid recipients to receive residential addiction treatment in the coming years, according to the article. A measure allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine, a drug used for treating opioid addiction. The legislation also channels more funding for researching and developing nonaddictive medications for pain management.
While anything is better than nothing when it comes to tackling addiction and helping more people into recovery, as well as lowering the number of overdose deaths each year, many lawmakers and experts have expressed concerns. The primary source of contention with the bill is that it is woefully underfunded. It is expected that the bill will cost around $8 billion, which some have pointed out is significantly less than what was is allotted for the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1990’s.
“While there is more work to be done, this bipartisan legislation takes an important step forward and will save lives,” said Republican and Democratic committee leaders.
Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat can assist you or a family member in breaking the cycle of opioid use disorder and begin a journey of addiction recovery. As National Recovery Month concludes, we are hopeful that more people will make the courageous decision to seek care. Please take the first step and contact us today.