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A Step Forward in Combating the Opioid Crisis

While the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh dominated the news, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive bill to combat the opioid crisis. The Support for Patients and Communities Act will help address opioid addiction, which kills 115 Americans each day.

New York State's hospitals and health systems have been at the forefront of addressing this crisis. Over the last year, HANYS has held monthly educational sessions on best practices. What came out of these sessions across the state helped guide our advocacy efforts in Washington.

HANYS applauds Congress for including several of the provisions recommended by HANYS. Specifically, the legislation allows Medicaid reimbursement for additional inpatient addiction treatment facilities by partially lifting the decades-old IMD exclusion. The legislation also allows more health professionals to prescribe buprenorphine, one of three medication-assisted treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

More Work Lies Ahead

Despite these meaningful reforms, more work needs to be done. HANYS urges Congress to continue the conversation on aligning 42 CFR Part 2 regulations with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which would allow the exchange of patient information on previous substance use between physicians. If we want to make a dent in the trajectory of this crisis, we need to prevent patients from relapsing into addiction.

HANYS is continuing to promote dialogue on this critical, still-evolving healthcare issue. The Act is an extremely positive step forward, but more needs to be done to finally turn the tide in this public health crisis.

The Support for Patients and Communities Act shows that Congress can come together to deal with a crisis and that’s encouraging.