Top lobbying groups urge Senate to oppose parts of House-passed opioids bill

Top lobbying groups urge Senate to oppose parts of House-passed opioids bill
© Smartstock/iStock/Thinkstock Photos

Powerful lobbying groups are pushing back against a House-passed bill intended to address the growing opioid epidemic. 

America's Health Insurance Plans led eight industry groups in a letter to Senate leadership Monday, asking that they oppose a provision in the House measure.


The provision, passed as part of the House opioids package in June, would require private insurance plans pay more to cover kidney disease before Medicare becomes the primary payer. 

The proposed change is meant to offset the costs of the bill, which includes a wide range of measures intended to fight the epidemic. 

"While we strongly support congressional efforts to address the opioid epidemic, we are very concerned about offsets that would reduce the ability of private health plans to provide comprehensive, affordable health care coverage," the groups wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Trump should beware the 'clawback' Congress Juan Williams: America needs radical solutions MORE (R-Ky.), Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (D-N.Y.), and the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Finance Committee. 

Shifting more costs to private insurance companies would "burden health plans at a time they are already facing challenges in maintaining affordable coverage," they wrote.

The letter was signed by the American Benefits Council, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Service Employees International Union, ERISA Industry Committee, United States Chamber of Commerce and UAW. 

Those groups are among the most powerful trade associations in Washington, often influencing health-care matters in Congress. 

The groups warned that, if passed, the bill would force private health plans to "raise premiums or reduce coverage." 

"These options are bad outcomes for workers and retirees," the letter reads. 

The Senate doesn't plan to vote on the House bill, but its own package made up of bills passed by the Health, Finance, Commerce, and Judiciary committees. 

That means the two chambers will have to hammer out a final opioid package to send to President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE