Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Study Effects of the Fentanyl Crisis on Taxpayers

On August 18th, Congressmen Russell Fry (SC) and Ruben Gallego (AZ) introduced the Fentanyl Crisis Research and Evaluation Act. This bill would require that the Comptroller General of the United States study the effects of the fentanyl crisis on the labor market, industry sectors, federal tax revenue, federal benefits programs, federal health programs, housing instability, and state finances; provide recommendations on how the federal government can support states; and submit a report of their findings to Congress. In a press release, Congressman Gallego said, “By reporting on the impacts of the fentanyl crisis on the labor market, health programs, housing, and more, the Fentanyl Crisis Research and Evaluation Act will give Congress the information we need to mitigate the burden on states and the American people.”

Articles & Resources

Congressman Russell Fry – Congressman Fry and Congressman Gallego Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Study the Effects of the Fentanyl Crisis on Taxpayers in America

HHS-OIG Audit Suggests Medicare Made Overpayments to Opioid Treatment Programs

On August 17th, the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) published findings suggesting that Medicare may have made $17.8 million in overpayments to opioid treatment programs. HHS-OIG audited 2.1 million Medicare Part B claims for opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment services from January 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021, and analyzed the claims data for opioid treatment programs billing patterns for OUD treatment services. Auditors found that Medicare may have overpaid $10.4 million for claims for weekly bundle payments that may have already been covered by a previous payment for the same enrollee; $5.1 million for take-home medication supplies that would have been covered by other payments or by payments made to cover a weekly bundle that included medication; $1.3 million for OUD treatment services provided without an OUD diagnosis; and $1 million for intake activities that occurred 14 or more times for the same enrollee during Medicare’s audit period. The auditors suggest that the overpayments may have occurred because Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services did not instruct Medicare Administrative Contractors to implement payment system changes that would have prevented opioid treatment programs from being paid for services covered by other payments for the same enrollee. OIG offered CMS six recommendations focused on implementing compliance measures and limiting overpayments, and CMS agreed with four of the recommendations and provided planned actions.

Articles & Resources

HHS-OIG—Medicare Made $17.8 Million in Potentially Improper Payments for Opioid-Use-Disorder Treatment Services Furnished by Opioid Treatment Programs.

What We Read Last Week

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

AMA – DEA opioid training requirements and the MATE Act explained with Sanjay Desai, MD

Anesthesia & Analgesia – At the Front Line of Opioid Use Disorder

EurekAlert! – Overlooked part of brain could play critical role in addiction recovery

Forbes – The High Cost of Addiction Will Rise Unless Leaders Step In

Fox News – Airline passenger who helped save man from fentanyl overdose calls for planes to be equipped with Narcan

NIDA – Marijuana and hallucinogen use, binge drinking reached historic highs among adults 35 to 50

Psychiatric Times – Study Shows That Anti-Fentanyl Antibody Reverses Signs of Carfentanil Overdose

Time – The Face of Rural Addiction Is Not What You Think

This Week’s Calendar

  • International Overdose Awareness Day
    Thursday, August 31; Event Notice

Questions about the above content can be directed to [email protected].