Press Release

#SubHealth Announces Bills for Next Week’s Hearing to Review Legislation in Response to Opioid Crisis and Enforcement Issues


WASHINGTON, DC – The Health Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), yesterday announced a hearing for Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at 10 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Combating the Opioid Crisis: Helping Communities Balance Enforcement and Patient Safety.”

In the first of three legislative hearings to examine the opioid crisis and possible legislative solutions, #SubHealth will review several bills pertaining to the Controlled Substances Act.

Specifically, #SubHealth will consider:

H.R. 2851, the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act, authored by Rep. John Katko (R-NY), will give law enforcement the tools they need to help get illicit synthetic drugs, like fentanyl, off our streets without compromising important public health and research protections. H.R. 2851 will also modernize scheduling guidelines to keep pace with the fast-changing nature of synthetic drugs.

H.R. 5041, the Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act, authored by Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI), will help reduce the number of unused controlled substances at risk of diversion or misuse by allowing hospice workers to safely dispose of these medications in patients’ homes.

H.R. __, the Ensuring Patient Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatments Act of 2018, a discussion draft written by Reps. Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Rick Nolan (D-MN) will make long overdue updates federal law to improve dispensing of implantable and injectable therapies – developed to make abuse, misuse, and diversion more difficult.

H.R. __, the Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act of 2018, a discussion draft written by Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) will clarify telemedicine waivers. Federal law permits the Attorney General to issue a special registration to health care providers to prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine in legitimate emergency situations, such as a lack of access to an in-person specialist. Unfortunately, the waiver process has never been implemented through regulation, and some patients do not have the emergency access they need to treatment. This bipartisan draft directs the Attorney General, with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to promulgate interim final regulations within 30 days of passage of the law.

H.R. __, the Improving Access to Remote Behavioral Health Treatment Act of 2018, a discussion draft written by Reps. Gregg Harper (R-MS) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) will expand access for patients in rural and underserved communities who may live near community mental health or addiction treatment centers, but not a hospital or state-licensed clinic. Without a DEA registration these health facilities do not qualify for the Ryan Haight Act’s telemedicine exception, and are unable to provide care to patients in need. This proposal would direct the Attorney General, with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to promulgate interim final regulations within 120 days of passage of the law for these treatment facilities to register with the DEA to engage in the practice of telemedicine.

H.R. __, the Tableting and Encapsulating Machine Regulation Act of 2018, authored by Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN), will make it tougher to traffick synthetic drugs. This bill will give the DEA the authority to regulate the use of tableting and encapsulating machines with requirements for the maintenance of records, inspections for verifying location and stated use, and security provisions.

H.R. 2063, the Opioid Preventing Abuse through Continuing Education (PACE) Act of 2017, authored by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), aims to improve provider understanding of pain management treatment guidelines and best practices, early detection of opioid addiction, and the treatment and management of opioid-dependent patients by requiring 12 hours of continuing medical education on the topic every three years.

H.R. 4275, Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act, authored by Reps. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Buddy Carter (R-GA), will help pharmacists detect fraudulent prescriptions. H.R. 4275 will help develop and disseminate materials, giving pharmacists greater understanding and ability to decline to fill controlled substances when they suspect the prescriptions are fraudulent, forged, or appear to be for abuse or diversion.

“As we continue our efforts to tackle this epidemic, it’s imperative we strike the right balance between necessary enforcement and patient safety,” said #SubHealth Chairman Burgess. “As the people’s representatives, we need to make sure law enforcement can get dangerous, illicit drugs out of our communities and licensed health professionals are able to safely dispose of unused prescriptions, particularly opioids. We’ll examine a number of important policies that will improve access to treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, make important updates to outdated laws, review ideas on how providers and pharmacists can better inform patients, all with the common goal of protecting our family, friends, and neighbors.”

The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony for the hearing will be available here as they are posted.



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