Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

Greg Walden advances 25 bills to combat nationwide opioid crisis

May 15, 2018
Press Release

Greg Walden advances 25 bills to combat nationwide opioid crisis

Click here or on the image above to view Walden’s remarks

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Continuing his efforts to put forth concrete solutions to combat the opioid crisis in Oregon and throughout the country, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) today advanced legislation to address the nationwide scourge. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, where Walden serves as Chairman, today approved 25 pieces of legislation to combat the opioid crisis, which will now receive a vote in the full House of Representatives.

“Today marks an important step in this committee’s effort to combat the opioid crisis, which continues to wreak havoc on communities all across the country,” said Walden. “From our legislative and investigative hearings to the roundtable we held just a few weeks ago, it is clear that Americans across the country are asking for more solutions from their elected leaders.”

Under Walden’s leadership, Energy and Commerce is in the midst of a two-track push to combat the opioid crisis, seeking to advance legislation to help stem the tide and investigate some of the root causes of the crisis. Specifically, the committee’s legislative efforts have examined bills to: improve patient safety and bolster enforcement tools, advance prevention and public health solutions, and address coverage and payment issues within Medicare and Medicaid.

“We know there is no silver bullet, no one-size-fits-all approach that will remedy the catastrophic effects of this crisis over the last decade. But much can be done to help vulnerable patients get the treatment they want and need, and to ensure these powerful drugs are not getting into the wrong hands,” said Walden.

Walden’s Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a second legislative markup on additional bills to combat the opioid crisis on Thursday, May 17, 2018. More information on the second markup will be posted here, as it becomes available.

For more information on today’s legislative markup, including an archived webcast, please click here.

The Energy and Commerce Committee today advanced the following bills to combat the opioid crisis:

H.R. 449, Synthetic Drug Awareness Act of 2017, authored by Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Chris Collins (R-NY), will require the U.S. Surgeon General to submit a comprehensive report to Congress on the public health effects of the rise in synthetic drug use among youth aged 12 to 18 in order to further educate parents and the medical community on the health effects of synthetics. H.R. 449 passed by voice vote.

H.R. 4284, Indexing Narcotics, Fentanyl, and Opioids (INFO) Act of 2017, authored by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), will direct HHS to create a public and easily accessible electronic dashboard linking to all of the nationwide efforts and strategies to combat the opioid crisis. H.R. 4284 passed, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 5002, ACE Research Act, authored by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), will provide the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with new, flexible authorities to conduct innovative research and spur urgently needed research on new non-addictive pain medications. H.R. 5002 passed by voice vote.

H.R. 5102, Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act of 2018, authored by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Hal Rogers (R-KY), will create a loan repayment program for SUD treatment providers.  Specifically, the bill will offer student loan repayment of up to $250,000 for participants who agree to work as a SUD treatment professional in areas most in need of their services. The program will be available to a wide range of direct care providers, including physicians, registered nurses, social workers, and other behavioral health professionals. H.R. 5102 passed by voice vote.

H.R. 5009, Jessie’s Law, authored by Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Dingell, will ensure medical professionals have access to a consenting patient’s complete health history when making treatment decisions by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop and disseminate best practices regarding the prominent display of substance use disorder (SUD) history in patient records of patients who have previously provided this information to a health care provider. H.R. 5009 passed, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 5176, Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms (POWER) Act of 2018, authored by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) and Rep. Michael Doyle (D-PA), will provide resources for hospitals to develop protocols on discharging patients who have presented with an opioid overdose. These protocols would address the provision of naloxone upon discharge, connection with peer-support specialists, and the referral to treatment and other services that best fit the patient’s needs. H.R. 5176 passed by voice vote.

H.R. 5197, Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) in the Emergency Department Act, authored by Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and McKinley, will establish a demonstration program to test alternative pain management protocols to limit the use of opioids in hospital emergency departments. H.R. 5197 passed, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 5261, TEACH to Combat Addiction Act of 2018, authored by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), will support Centers of Excellence, or institutions of learning that have championed SUD treatment education to improve how health professionals are taught about both SUD and pain. H.R. 5261 passed by voice vote.

H.R. 5272, Reinforcing Evidence-based Standards Under Law in Treating Substance abuse (RESULTS) Act of 2018, authored by Reps. Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Eliot Engel (D-NY), will direct the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide guidance for entities applying for SUD and mental illness grants, including guidance to grantees on how best to articulate the rationale for a given program or activity. Additionally, it will also encourage the funding of evidence-based interventions and the replication of promising or effective practices. H.R. 5272 passed the by voice vote.

H.R. 5327, Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act 2018, authored by Rep. Guthrie (R-KY) and Rep. Green (D-TX), will establish Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers (CORCs) that will serve as models for comprehensive treatment and recovery. CORCs would utilize the full range of FDA-approved medications and evidence-based treatments, have strong linkages with the community, generate meaningful outcomes data, and dramatically improve the opportunities for individuals to establish and maintain long-term recovery as productive members of society. H.R. 5327 passed, as amended by Rep. Guthrie (R-KY) and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), by voice vote.

H.R. 5353, Eliminating Opioid-Related Infectious Diseases Act of 2018, authored by Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), will authorize the CDC to undertake an injection drug use-associated infection elimination initiative and work with states to improve education, surveillance and treatment of injection drug-use associated infections, like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis. H.R. 5353 passed by voice vote.

H.R. 3331, To amend title XI of the Social Security Act to promote testing of incentive payments for behavioral health providers for adoption and use of certified electronic health record technology, authored by Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Doris Matsui (D-CA), will promote the testing of incentive payments for behavioral health providers for adoption and use of certified electronic health record technology. H.R. 3331 passed, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 5685, the Medicare Opioid Safety Education Act, authored by Reps. John Faso (R-NY), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Jim Renacci (R-OH), will direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to compile education resources for beneficiaries regarding opioid use, pain management, and alternative pain management treatments, and include these resources in the “Medicare and You” Handbook. H.R. 5685 passed by voice vote.

H.R. 3528, Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act, authored by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), will require e-prescribing, with exceptions, for coverage of prescription drugs that are controlled substances under the Medicare Part D program. H.R. 3528 passed the, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 4841, Standardizing Electronic Prior Authorization for Safe Prescribing Act of 2018, authored by Reps. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Bill Johnson (R-OH), and Lujan, seeks to standardize electronic prior authorization under Medicare Part D. H.R. 4841 passed, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 5675, to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to require prescription drug plan sponsors under the Medicare program to establish drug management programs for at-risk beneficiaries. H.R. 5675, authored by Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Peter Roskam (R-IL), and Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), will build off of work done in the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA), and require prescription drug plan sponsors under the Medicare program establish drug management programs for at-risk beneficiaries. H.R. 5675 passed by voice vote.

H.R. 5686, the Medicare Clear Health Options in Care for Enrollees (CHOICE) Act, authored by Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Chris Collins (R-NY), Terri Sewell (D-AL), and Connor Lamb (D-PA), will require prescription drug plans under Medicare Part D to include information on the adverse effects of opioid overutilization and of coverage of non-pharmacological therapies and non-opioid medications or devices used to treat pain. H.R. 5686 passed by voice vote.

H.R. 5582, the Abuse Deterrent Access Act of 2018, authored by Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA), David Loebsack (D-IA), and Tom Reed (R-NY), will direct CMS to evaluate the use of abuse-deterrent opioids in Medicare plans. H.R. 5582 passed, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 5684, the Protecting Seniors From Opioid Abuse Act, authored by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), and Rep. Michael Doyle (D-PA), will add beneficiaries at-risk for prescription drug abuse to the list of targeted beneficiaries to be eligible for Medication Therapy Management (MTM) under Part D. H.R. 5684 passed by voice vote.

H.R. 5473, the Better Pain Management Through Better Data Act of 2018, authored by Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) and Lujan, will direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to articulate clear data collection methods that could be used to inform opioid-sparing labeling claims for products that may replace, delay, or reduce or the use of opioid analgesics. H.R. 5473 passed by voice vote.

H.R. 5687, the Securing Opioids and Unused Narcotics with Deliberate Disposal and Packaging Act of 2018, authored by Reps. Richard Hudson (R-NC), Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Ted Budd (R-NC) will direct the FDA to work with manufacturers to establish programs for efficient return or destruction of unused Schedule II drugs, with an emphasis on opioids. These methods could include mail-back pouches to secure facilities for incineration, or methods to immediately inactivate/render unattractive unused drugs. In addition, this bill will facilitate utilization of packaging that may reduce overprescribing of opioids. Finally, this bill will require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study new and innovative technologies that claim to be able to safely dispose of opioids and other unused medications. GAO would review and detail the effectiveness of these disposal methods. H.R. 5687 passed by voice vote.

H.R. 4275, Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act, authored by Reps. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Carter, will help pharmacists detect fraudulent prescriptions. H.R. 4275 will help develop and disseminate materials, giving pharmacists greater understanding and ability to decline to fill controlled substances when they suspect the prescriptions are fraudulent, forged, or appear to be for abuse or diversion. H.R. 4275 passed by voice vote.

H.R. 5041, Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act, authored by Reps. Walberg and Dingell, will help reduce the number of unused controlled substances at risk of diversion or misuse by allowing hospice employees to safely dispose of these medications on site after the death of a patient. H.R. 5041 passed, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 5202, Ensuring Patient Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatments Act of 2018, authored by Reps. Ryan Costello (R-PA), Rick Nolan (D-MN), Karen Handel (R-GA), David Rouzer (R-NC), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY), will make long overdue updates federal law to improve dispensing of implantable and injectable therapies – developed to make abuse, misuse, and diversion more difficult. H.R. 5202 passed by voice vote.

H.R. 5483, Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act of 2018, authored by Reps. Carter, Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Handel, Stefanik, and Bobby Rush (D-IL), will clarify telemedicine waivers. Federal law permits the Attorney General to issue a special registration to health care providers to prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine in legitimate emergency situations, such as a lack of access to an in-person specialist. Unfortunately, the waiver process has never been implemented through regulation, and some patients do not have the emergency access they need to treatment. This bipartisan bill directs the Attorney General, with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to promulgate interim final regulations within one year of passage of the law. H.R. 5483 passed by voice vote.