House panel to hold last opioid hearing before producing final legislation

Greg Nash

The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced it will hold its last legislative hearing on opioids on April 11, as the panel pushes to have a package to the House floor by Memorial Day weekend.

Lawmakers will consider more than a dozen bills focusing on coverage and payment issues as they work to craft legislation aimed at combating the opioid epidemic that’s shown no signs of abating.

The full list of bills hasn’t yet been released, but a GOP committee spokesperson detailed some of the concepts and discussion drafts that will be discussed, which Stat first reported.

This includes requiring Medicaid to integrate prescription drug monitoring programs that keep tabs on prescriptions into their providers’ and pharmacists’ clinical workflow. This would let providers check the database before a patient is prescribed or dispensed a prescription painkiller.

Additionally, the committee aims to ensure all states have a program that sets a limit on the number of doctors and pharmacies that can give out opioids to those Medicaid beneficiaries at risk of or who have an addiction.

The panel will also examine modifications to Medicare that could better communication between the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, plans, providers and beneficiaries.

Lawmakers on the other side of the Capitol are also working to hammer out ways to combat the opioid epidemic.

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation in late February billed as a follow up to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act passed in 2016, dubbed “CARA 2.0.” The Senate Health Committee has held six bipartisan hearings on the opioid epidemic with the aim of marking up legislation this spring.

The rate of opioid involved overdose deaths increased nearly 28 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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