Senate Committee Introduces Legislation to Fight Opioid Abuse

Senate Committee Introduces Legislation to Fight Opioid Abuse

A Senate health committee is hoping for rapid passage of its Opioid Response Act of 2018 (S. 2680), which calls for boosting funding to state-based substance abuse registries and other data sharing tools to reduce prescription opioid abuse.

“Our goal is to move urgently, effectively and in a bipartisan way,” said committee chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in a written statement. “This is a broad-based set of 40 different proposals to address the opioid crisis. The bill could help states and communities begin to bring an end to the opioid crisis by reducing the number of prescription opioids, stopping illegal drugs at the border and accelerating research on non-addictive pain medicines.”

One component of the law is the Senate-passed bill known as Jessie’s Law, which asks the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop standards so that a patient’s history of substance abuse could be displayed prominently—at the patient’s request only—on paper and electronic health records (EHRs).

The newly drafted law also increases funding for “model training programs on how to protect and appropriately disclose confidential substance use disorder medical records for healthcare providers, patients and their families,” Health Data Management reports.

The legislation boosts support for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s controlled substance data collection work to better track prenatal opioid abuse and overdose data, as well as other state and federal tracking of infections commonly associated with substance abuse such as HIV and hepatitis.

Alexander said he hopes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will approve the bill on April 24, when Alexander’s committee plans to mark up the bill.

Mary Butler is the associate editor at Journal of AHIMA.