House Committees Advance Slate of HITN Opioid Safety Alliance-Endorsed Bills

WASHINGTON, DC (May 17, 2018): Health IT Now's Opioid Safety Alliance - a working group of prescribers, dispensers, professional societies, and patients advocating for the use of technology to fight illegitimate opioid use - celebrated the House Energy and Commerce Committee's passage today of H.R. 5603, the Access to Telehealth Services for Opioid Use Disorder Act and H.R. 5795, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act.

The committee vote was preceded by yesterday's House Ways and Means Committee's passage of another Alliance-backed bill: H.R. 5773, the Preventing Addiction for Susceptible Seniors Act.

HITN Opioid Safety Alliance Executive Director Joel White released the following statement:

"Congress is sending a clear signal to victims of the opioid epidemic that help is on the way. From yesterday's Ways and Means-passed bill to facilitate the use of electronic prior authorization in Medicare Part D, thereby decreasing provider burden and limiting the potential for medication mismanagement, to today's bills harnessing the power of telehealth and modernizing outdated privacy laws that threaten patient safety, lawmakers are taking important steps forward as we seek to bring technology to bear in the fight against this public health emergency," said HITN Opioid Safety Alliance Executive Director Joel White. 

White concluded, "We thank members of the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees for their attention to these 21st-century solutions. The Opioid Safety Alliance looks forward to working with committee members to send these and other Alliance-backed policiesacross the finish line in order to save more lives from the scourge of opioid misuse." 


Background:

  • H.R. 5603, the Access to Telehealth Services for Opioid Use Disorder Act, was passed by a voice vote today in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill, authored by Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Tony Cardenas (D-CA), would expand access to treatment via telehealth for substance use disorders in the Medicare program and was endorsed by nearly a dozen organizations in a HITN Opioid Safety Alliance-ledletter of support last month.  
     
  • H.R. 5795, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, was passed by a vote of 35 to 17 today in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. If enacted, it would reform the flawed patient privacy law known as 42 CFR Part 2 that silos addiction treatment information from the rest of an individual's medical record, thereby preventing prescribers from making fully informed clinical decisions. Health IT Now's Opioid Safety Alliance wrote about the need for such measures as far back as last November - weeks before the coalition's official launch. Health IT Now is a leading member of The Partnership to Amend 42 CFR Part 2, which has made enactment of this solution a top priority. 
     
  • H.R. 5773, the Preventing Addiction for Susceptible Seniors Act, was passed by a voice vote yesterday in the House Ways and Means Committee. The legislation, sponsored by Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Stephen Knight (R-CA), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), is a packaging of several previously introduced opioid-related bills, including provisions of the Opioid Safety Alliance-backed Standardizing Electronic Prior Authorization for Safe Prescribing ActThis would facilitate the use of electronic prior authorization (ePA) within Medicare Part D. The Alliance endorsed the standalone bill, authored by Rep. David Schweikert's (R-AZ), upon its introduction in January. More recently, it led nearly 20 organizations on a letter urging its passage. 

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