This past Friday, the House passed bipartisan legislation to combat the opioid epidemic, including provisions authored by U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and named in honor of Dr. Todd Graham that would improve access to non-opioid pain treatments. The comprehensive legislation to aid prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts is expected to reach the president’s desk for his signature in the coming days. The House passed the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) by a bipartisan vote of 393 to 8 after a final agreement was reached between the House and Senate. The Senate is expected to pass the legislation in the coming days, and the president is expected to sign it. The bill includes provisions from Congresswoman Walorski’s bill, the Dr. Todd Graham Pain Management, Treatment, and Recovery Act (H.R. 6110), which passed the House unanimously in June.
The provisions named in honor of Dr. Graham aim to expand access to non-opioid alternative pain treatments and technologies. The legislation directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to solicit stakeholder feedback, study ways to improve access to non-opioid pain management treatments, and make recommendations to Congress. The study would include an evaluation of possible coverage and payment barriers that prevent Medicare beneficiaries from accessing non-opioid alternatives and steps to improve treatment strategies and case management for various high-risk populations. It would also provide best practices and educational resources for the expansion of addiction treatment for those suffering from mental or behavioral health issues, particularly in rural areas.
The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act also includes provisions to:
Expand access to addiction recovery services;
Give Medicare beneficiaries access to more treatment options such as Medication-Assisted Treatment;
Establish comprehensive opioid recovery centers;
Improve efforts to help at-risk patients;
Enhance prescription drug monitoring programs;
Support law enforcement efforts to combat dangerous drugs;
Prevent shipment of illicit opioids in international mail;
Crack down on synthetic drugs; and
Provide local communities additional resources to address the opioid epidemic.
Todd A. Graham, M.D., a doctor with more than three decades of service, was shot and killed on July 26th, 2017, after refusing to prescribe an opioid painkiller to the shooter’s wife. Dr. Graham was a double board-certified physician in both Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine.