Week ahead: House takes on opioid crisis

The House will turn its attention to the opioid abuse crisis in the coming week as Congress looks for a bipartisan achievement in an election year.

The House is expected to vote on the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act, which authorizes $103 million in grants for programs such as substance abuse treatment and training for first responders. 

{mosads}It is a companion piece to legislation that already passed the Senate on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in March. 

The House is also expected to vote on a range of other bills aimed at addressing the opioid abuse crisis, including one to set up an interagency task force. 

The bills are expected to receive wide bipartisan support, though Democrats have also been calling for adding $600 million in emergency funding. 

A similar effort to add that funding by Democrats in the Senate fizzled out before the bill went on to pass 94-1. 

In a far more divisive area, the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on health reform ideas as Republicans seek to craft an ObamaCare alternative. 

The committee says the hearing will focus on how to cover people with pre-existing conditions and keep premium costs down. 

“As we work toward a unified, Member-driven plan to move away from Obamacare, this hearing will examine the value of ideas that aim to help families get and keep better care at a lower cost,” subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) said in a statement.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said last month that he wants to end ObamaCare’s ban on insurers discriminating based on pre-existing conditions and instead fund state-based high-risk pools where people with pre-existing conditions could get coverage.

“Let’s fund risk pools at the state level to subsidize their coverage, so that they can get affordable coverage,” Ryan said at an event at Georgetown University. “You dramatically lower the price for everybody else. You make health insurance so much more affordable, so much more competitive and open up competition.” 

Democrats counter that high-risk pools were around before ObamaCare and that states never funded them enough to actually support coverage for enough people with pre-existing conditions. 


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