Health Committee Passes Bill Addressing Opioid Crisis

Creating Healthier, Safer Communities

Today the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, of which U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is a member, advanced the Opioid Response Act of 2018, legislation aimed to bring an end to the opioid crisis by accelerating research on non-addictive pain medicines, improving access to treatment, and strengthening enforcement.

“Opioid abuse is currently our nation’s most devastating public health epidemic, and it has been wreaking havoc in our communities and our homes for far too long,” Senator Murkowski said. “This bipartisan legislation takes a multi-faceted approach, from prevention and enforcement, down to care and treatment. We recognize this problem isn’t going to be solved overnight, but fully addressing this epidemic through an all-hands-on-deck approach must be a priority.”

As a cosponsor of the Opioid Response Act of 2018, Senator Murkowski worked to insert several standalone measures that she cosponsored in the bill that aim to increase mental health treatment, increase access to trauma informed care and expand available treatment options for rural communities.

Bill Details:

  • Addresses Work Force Shortages: Authorizes the Department of HHS to address the economic and workforce impacts for communities affected by the opioid crisis, through loan repayments targeted at workforce shortages for the substance use and mental health treatment workforce.
  • Focuses on Mental Health: Strengthens the healthcare workforce to increase access to mental health services in schools and community-based settings and to substance use disorder services in underserved areas. 
  • Improves Treatment Access: Requires the Drug Enforcement Administration to issue regulations on how qualified providers can prescribe controlled substances in limited circumstances via telemedicine. 
  • Trauma-informed Care: Creates a pilot program to better support children and families impacted by the crisis that funds grants aimed at increasing student support services and better integrate mental health care in schools, to prevent and mitigate the effects of negative childhood experiences.  The bill also creates a trauma-informed task force that will issue best practices for supporting children and families who have experienced or are at risk for experiencing trauma.
  • Expanding Research: Provides NIH greater authority to efficiently approve new high impact, cutting-edge research projects, such as non-addictive painkillers and other scientific advances that will help respond to the opioid crisis.


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