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Brady, Neal Take Next Step Toward Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Opioid Epidemic

February 27, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA), along with Health Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Ranking Member Levin (D-MI) today sent Requests for Information (RFIs) to key stakeholders on ways to prevent and treat opioid abuse and dependence in the Medicare program. In 2016, one-third of the 42 million Americans enrolled in Part D received an opioid prescription, totaling nearly 80 million opioid prescriptions over the course of the year. As the Medicare population continues to grow, more seniors and individuals with disabilities will be at serious risk of developing an addiction to these dangerous drugs.

As part of the Committee’s ongoing work to develop legislation that protects Americans from this growing epidemic, the Committee is seeking comments from insurers, benefit managers, health care providers, and prescribers on ways to leverage Medicare to reverse the trend of increased deaths due to prescription opioid overdoses.

Upon sending the RFIs to stakeholders, Chairman Brady said:

“Too many lives are lost every day to these dangerous drugs – tearing apart families, ravaging communities, and draining our economy. To combat this crisis and protect more Americans from the perils of opioid abuse, we need to have all hands on deck. That’s why we’re inviting stakeholders to join us in identifying solutions. More than 42 million Americans receive prescriptions through the Medicare program – and we have a shared responsibility to make sure this important program continues to improve lives through better oversight, greater prevention and education, and innovative treatment options.”

Ranking Member Neal added:

“The opioid epidemic shatters communities across our nation and afflicts Americans of all ages. Yet the impact of this crisis on the Medicare population is often overlooked. By enlisting the assistance of Medicare providers and learning from their experiences on the frontlines, we in Congress can create policies that better help those struggling with opioid abuse, prevent the health emergency from worsening, and save lives. Working together, we’ll find more effective solutions to combat this crisis and treat those who are caught in its grips.” 

The Committee has requested feedback by March 15, 2018 related to overprescribing, data tracking, communication and education, as well as expanding treatment options in Medicare.

CLICK HERE to read the letter sent to insurers.

CLICK HERE to read the letter sent to doctors, prescribers, and other health care providers.