Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Develop Substance Use Education for Children

On December 16th, Representatives Filemon Vela (TX-34) and Alex Mooney (WV-02) introduced the Saving America’s Future by Educating (SAFE) Kids Act. The bill would direct the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) Secretary to establish a grant program for State educational agencies to develop and implement an evidence-based curriculum for students in kindergarten through grade 12 on substance use and misuse. Under the bill, the DOE would be required to distribute no less than ten grants during each grant cycle and give priority to states that have experienced the highest drug overdose deaths. The bill would also allow the DOE to work closely with State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and single State agencies during curriculum development, and would require that the DOE review and revise the curriculum every two years. In a statement, Representative Vela said, “Providing our nation’s adolescents with evidence-based resources to curb recent spikes in substance use will help prevent these harmful and deadly addictions among our young people.”

Articles & Resources

H.R.6324 – Saving America’s Future by Educating Kids Act of 2021

Alice Echo-News – Congressman Vela Introduces the Bipartisan Saving America’s Future by Educating (SAFE) Kids Act

OIG Findings Suggest Medicare Beneficiaries Are Not Receiving OUD Treatment

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) published a data brief examining trends in access to opioid use disorder medication and behavioral therapy in Medicare Parts B, C, and D beneficiaries. According to a statement by OIG, while approximately 1 million Medicare beneficiaries were diagnosed with opioid use disorder in 2020, less than 16 percent received medication to treat their opioid use disorder and less than half of those who received medication also received behavioral therapy. OIG also found that beneficiaries in Florida, Texas, Nevada, and Kansas, Asian and Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and Black beneficiaries, female beneficiaries and older beneficiaries who did not receive Part D subsidies were less likely to receive treatment. Based on their findings, OIG suggested six recommendations for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to implement to address access concerns, with CMS explicitly agreeing to and implementing changes in response to four of the six recommendations. In response to OIG’s recommendations, CMS continued outreach to beneficiaries to improve their awareness of treatment coverage and updated the Medicare & You handbook, continued outreach to providers about opportunities to treat beneficiaries and continued to monitor payment mechanisms and rates for office-based treatment, finalized their 2022 Physician Fee Schedule to improve telehealth treatment data collection, and continued tracking disparities in treatment and began developing opioid disorder plans that address equity and disparities.

Articles & Resources

Link to Report

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.

CDC – Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2020

Inside Health Policy – FDA’s New Public Health Focus May Affect Vaccine, Antibiotic Reviews

Insider – New York City will install 10 vending machines that dispense Naloxone and clean needles to help fight the opioid crisis

MedPage Today – U.S. Opioid Prescribing Falls, Though Cuts Are Uneven

RAND Corporation – Expert Panel Consensus on Management of Advanced Cancer-Related Pain in Individuals With Opioid Use Disorder

STAT – Opioid overdoses are killing Americans. Improving access to methadone can save lives

STAT – Robert Califf is a fervent believer in data. At the FDA, will that be enough?

STAT – The case for Califf: Don’t let politics prevent confirmation of best FDA commissioner candidate

The Hill – After a brutal year of overdose deaths, the US needs urgent, coordinated action

The Pew Charitable Trusts – Telehealth Can Lower Barriers to Buprenorphine Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

The Seattle Times – To fight opioid crisis, UW researchers take new shot at developing vaccine against addictive drugs

UMass Amherst – Smartwatch Sensor May Help Prevent Opioid Relapse, Overdose And Dependency

Undark – How AI Could Prevent the Development of New Illicit Drugs

University of Michigan – Prescription drug misuse later in life greatly increases risk for substance use disorder

This Week’s Calendar

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Business meeting to consider the nominations of Robert McKinnon Califf, of North Carolina, to be Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Department of Health and Human Services, Jose Javier Rodriguez, of Florida, and Lisa M. Gomez, of New Jersey, both to be an Assistant Secretary, and David Weil, of Massachusetts, to be Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, all of the Department of Labor, Amy Loyd, of New Mexico, to be Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Department of Education, Javier Ramirez, of Illinois, to be Federal Mediation and Conciliation Director, Linda A. Puchala, of Maryland, to be Member of the National Mediation Board, and Susan Harthill, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Wednesday, January 12th; 12:00 p.m.; Hearing Notice

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