Feds plan $2.5bn to fight opioid abuse
AUGUSTA, Maine — A new federal law aims to cut opioid overdoses and save lives by cutting out incentives for doctors and hospitals to abuse opioids, and increasing monitoring for addicts.
Under the legislation, called the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Treatment Act, hospitals would be required to report any patient with a prescription for opioids who dies from overdoses to the federal government.
And patients with chronic pain would be barred from receiving prescription opioids.
The law also aims to improve the care of people who overdose, by giving states greater control over who gets Medicaid coverage and allowing them to impose caps on how much opioids can be prescribed.
The federal government has not yet put out a schedule for implementing the law, but Maine Gov.
Paul LePage, a Republican, has called for it to be implemented immediately.
He said in an interview with The Associated Press that the new law would be a significant boost to Maine’s public health.
The state’s largest hospital system, St. Luke’s, has had to slash the number of its opioid-related care days by more than 90 percent since the opioid epidemic began in 2015, and many of the state’s doctors have also been pressured to reduce their prescribing.
Under its new plan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would oversee drug treatment programs and monitor the treatment of addicted patients.
The federal government would provide $1 billion in grants to states to improve their treatment and overdose prevention programs, according to the bill.
In addition, the bill calls for the state to spend $1.8 billion in a pilot project that would see the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration pay out $250 million in grant funds to help the state create addiction-related treatment programs.
The agency has a budget of $1 million per year.
LePage said he plans to sign the bill into law next week.
He said the bill is a good first step toward saving lives and helping Maine get on track toward ending its opioid crisis.
The state has the second-highest opioid overdose death rate in the country, and LePage said his administration is also working to provide addiction treatment to addicts.
The governor said he is concerned about how much the new state law will cost and whether it will have a negative impact on patients.
He added that he will be monitoring the bill closely.
States and territories could seek waivers to apply for the funds to implement the federal funding, but some governors have rejected the request.
The funding is available for states to use for the next two years.
The bill was introduced by U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who is a vocal opponent of the opioid crisis and a proponent of opioid addiction treatment.
He is the first senator to introduce a bill to address the issue.
King said the new federal funding could be used to help prevent another overdose.
He urged lawmakers to pass the bill this year.
The legislation would also help states reduce their opioid-abuse rates by setting aside $2 billion to help them build addiction treatment programs, which would provide more treatment for addicts and provide more addiction treatment beds, according the bill, which was written by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich.