Biden’s FY 2022 Budget Would Boost Funding to Combat Opioid Crisis

On April 9, President Biden unveiled his budget proposal for fiscal year 2022. This proposal included $10.7 billion—an increase of $3.9 billion over the current fiscal year—to help combat the opioid crisis. As is common for the first budget proposal for a President’s term of office, this document, referred to as a “skinny budget”, includes only high level details, but promises to support a variety of aspects of the response to the opioid crisis. These include funding for states and tribes focused on research, medication-assisted treatment, recovery support services, and expanding the behavioral health workforce. The budget proposal also notes the need to make targeted investments to support Native Americans, older Americans, and those living in rural areas.

Articles & Resources

FY 2022 Budget

CDC, SAMHSA Announce that Some Grantees can use Federal Funds to Purchase Fentanyl Test Strips

Driven by the rise in drug overdose deaths due to illegally manufactured fentanyl, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced that overdose response programs funded through the CDC’s Overdose Data to Action cooperative agreement and SAMHSA’s State Opioid Response grants may use the funding to purchase rapid fentanyl test strips (FTS). In a press release, Acting Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, Tom Coderre, said “this will save lives by providing tools to identify the growing presence of fentanyl in the nation’s illicit drug supply and – partnered with referrals to treatment – complement SAMHSA’s daily work to direct help to more Americans.” CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky added, “the increase in drug overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids such as illicitly made fentanyl is a public health crisis that requires immediate action and novel strategies. State and local programs now have another tool to add to their on-the-ground efforts toward reducing and preventing overdoses, in particular fentanyl-related overdose deaths.”

Articles & Resources

SAMHSA – Federal Grantees May Now Use Funds to Purchase Fentanyl Test Strips

CMS Selects Applicants Participating in Value in Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Demonstration Initiative

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has selected the applicants that will participate in the agency’s 4-year Value in Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Demonstration, which aims to test if a new per beneficiary per month care management fee and a new performance-based incentive for opioid use disorder (OUD) services will reduce hospitalizations and improve health outcomes for Medicare Fee-For-Service beneficiaries. The 61 selected applicants, which include Medicare physicians, hospitals, health centers, and treatment programs that specialize in OUD care, will sign a participation agreement with CMS in order to test the two new Medicare payments and increase access to OUD services.

Articles & Resources

CMS – Value in Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Demonstration Program

CMS – CMS Selects Value in Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Demonstration Applicants

CMS – Summary of Value in Treatment (ViT) Demonstration Selected Applicants

Legislation Introduced to Respond to the Increase in Synthetic Opioids

Last week, Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH-02) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE-AL) introduced the Support, Treatment, and Overdose Prevention of (STOP) Fentanyl Act of 2021, which aims to expand research and education efforts to detect and monitor fentanyl, enhance overdose prevention interventions, expand access to substance use disorder treatment programs, increase public health trainings for law enforcement, and increase synthetic drug surveillance. In a press release, Representative Kuster said, “I’m proud to introduce this legislation to bolster our national response to the opioid epidemic and connect individuals with treatment and recovery programs. We cannot turn our backs on those struggling with substance abuse, and I look forward to working across the aisle on the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force to address this crisis that impacts communities nationwide.” Representative Blunt Rochester added, “synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, have had a devastating impact throughout Delaware and across the United States, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the stark rise in overdose fatalities from fentanyl, it is time for Congress to take long-term action to save lives.”

Articles & Resources

Representative Ann McLane Kuster – Fitzgerald, Johnson Introduce SOFA Act to Combat Opioid Epidemic

STOP Fentanyl Act of 2021

Bill Reintroduced to Require ID Checks at the Pharmacy and Utilization of Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) recently reintroduced the Opioid Prescription Verification Act, which would require pharmacists to check IDs when dispensing opioids and enter the information of the person picking up an opioid prescription into the state Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to allow law enforcement to track patterns of abuse. The legislation would also require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to collaborate with other agencies to provide guidance to pharmacists on ID checks and safe dispensing. In a press release, Representative Davis said, “this legislation, inspired by a meeting I had with the Normal Police Department a few years ago, would empower law enforcement to monitor ‘pharmacy shopping’ and track bad actors who abuse opioid prescriptions. It’s common sense that individuals should be required to show ID to pick up opioid prescriptions, which are highly addictive and a contributing factor to the opioid epidemic.” This bill was previously introduced in the Senate during the 116th Congress.

Articles & Resources

Rep. Rodney Davis – Davis Re-introduces Opioid Prescription Verification Act to Combat Opioid Epidemic

Bill Introduced Requiring Federal Study on Recovery Housing

Last week, Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced the Studying Outcomes and Benchmarks for Effective Recovery (SOBER) Homes Act, which would authorize $1.5 million for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to conduct a federal study to examine the quality, effectiveness, and availability of recovery housing and to identify the current research and data gaps in recovery housing oversight. In a press release, Representative Levin said, “many sober living homes have failed to meet a high standard of care, neglecting to provide those who are struggling with substance abuse the care they need to recover. We can and must do better. The SOBER Homes Act will help us better understand where these facilities are falling short and what we can improve to ensure everyone in recovery housing receives the help they need and deserve.”

Articles & Resources

Rep. Mike Levin  – Rep. Mike Levin Introduces Legislation to Analyze Effectiveness of Sober Living Homes

SOBER Homes Act

What We Read Last Week

Several articles were published last week pertaining to the opioid epidemic, covering a variety of different components of the issue. Links to relevant articles are provided below.

Articles & Resources

Annals of Internal Medicine – Preventing Hospital Readmission for Patients With Comorbid Substance Use Disorder

Health Affairs – Medicaid Expansion Increased Medications For Opioid Use Disorder Among Adults Referred By Criminal Justice Agencies

Journal of Cognitive Enhancement – Virtual Reality as a Non-Pharmacological Adjunct to Reduce the Use of Analgesics in Hospitals

Penn Medicine News – Medication Access for Opioid Use Disorder Lower Among Those Involved with Criminal Justice System

Politico – Telehealth Shouldn’t Mean ‘Videohealth’ for Opioid Treatment

Rep. Ann McLane Kuster – Kuster, Barragán, Porter, Trone Lead Letter to HHS Urging Extension and Expansion of Public Health Emergency from Opioid Crisis

The Hill – Hunter Biden and the politics of addiction

The Lantern – Harm reduction week at Ohio State kicks off, brings awareness to drug overdose prevention

The Philadelphia Inquirer – Caron Treatment Centers cuts readmissions under unusual contract with Independence Blue Cross

The Washington Post – Overdose deaths may have topped 90,000 in 2020

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico – Drug Trafficking Gang Member Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina – Acting U.S. Attorney Urges Participation in National DEA Drug Take Back Day

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Connecticut – Pennsylvania Resident Charged with Fentanyl Trafficking Offenses

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida – Heroin And Fentanyl Dealer Sentenced To Fourteen Years In Prison For Drug Conspiracy Resulting In Death

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama – Fultondale Doctor, Demopolis Pharmacist, Tuscaloosa Sales Representative Sentenced in Health Care Fraud Conspiracy

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia – Berkeley County man admits to role in drug trafficking enterprise

This Week’s Calendar

In the week ahead, there are no relevant events or hearings noticed at this time. In the event that there are any changes to the schedule for this week, we will make additional information available.

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