The Senate this week overwhelmingly approved bipartisan legislation aimed at combating the opioid epidemic. With more than 70 provisions, the measure would boost research to develop nonaddictive painkillers, encourage pain management techniques that don’t rely on opioids and allow states to better track opioid prescriptions. It also authorizes additional funds for treatment and prevention.
The Senate bill does not include two WSHA priorities: (1) aligning the confidentiality rules for substance use disorder patients with those mandated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act; and (2) expanding access to opioid treatment for adult Medicaid beneficiaries in an Institution for Mental Disease (IMD).
Washington Sen. Patty Murray — the senior Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee — was one of the measure’s main architects. In a meeting with HELP Committee staff last week, WSHA CEO Cassie Sauer urged Murray to support WSHA’s priorities.
Sen. Murray and other key lawmakers are now working to reconcile differences between the Senate bill and a measure passed by the House in June. (John Flink, WSHA Federal Lobbyist)