Manchin again secures funding for West Virginia to fight opioid crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) secured a provision, in the opioid package that passed the Senate today, that will continue to ensure that West Virginia will receive more funding to fight the opioid epidemic. When originally passed, the funding that states receive to fight the opioid epidemic was based heavily on the number of overdose deaths rather than the rate of overdose deaths. Unfortunately, this disproportionally hurt states like West Virginia, which has a small population but has the highest need. Senator Manchin fought during the Appropriations process and in this bill to ensure that states that have been hit the hardest by the opioid epidemic receive more funding.

“West Virginia has the highest overdose rate per capita of any state in our nation and the impacts of this epidemic can be felt in every family, every community and every corner of our state. I am pleased to have secured a continued set aside for states like West Virginia where mortality rates are through the roof. This language more than tripled the amount of funding coming to our state, and I will continue to fight to ensure West Virginia is getting our fair share of funding to fight this epidemic,” Senator Manchin said.

Before the vote, Senator Manchin spoke on the Senate Floor, urging his colleagues to include the Legacy Act in the opioid package, which would improve health care coordination for people in recovery and help prevent overdose deaths.  To watch his floor speech click here.

Senator Manchin worked to include the following provisions in the Opioid Crisis Response Act:

  • Opioid Funding for hard hit states: Reauthorizes and makes improvements to the State Targeted Opioid Response (STR) program to help states better fight the opioid epidemic, including updates to the formula.

Language/goals similar to two bills Senator Manchin has cosponsored:

    • The Opioid Response Enhancement Act (S. 2437)
    • Targeted Opioid Funding Act (S. 2125)
  • Improving communication and information sharing between medical professionals and patients: Includes language to better facilitate quality coordinated care for individuals with a history of substance use disorder treatment, but does not go far enough.
    • Includes Jessie’s Law, which passed as part of the FY18 omnibus spending bill.
    • Touches on the Protecting Jessica Grubb’s Legacy Act (S. 1850) by requiring HHS to provide materials for training medical professionals in the safe sharing of substance use disorder treatment records. This, while a good step, is insufficient to solve the larger problem, which is that the current standards for sharing these records are too burdensome for providing quality, coordinated care. The full Legacy Act is needed to solve the underlying problem that is compromising care for those recovering from substance use disorders.
  • Improving Access to Treatment and Recovery: The bill establishes a grant program to create comprehensive opioid recovery centers in hard hit communities.
    • Senator Manchin introduced the LifeBOAT Act to establish a funding stream to fund efforts to provide and expand access to substance use disorder treatment and recovery. To pay for this treatment, this bill would establish a 1 cent fee on each milligram of opioid in a pain pill. Including the language from LifeBOAT would strengthen the provisions in this bill that seek to improve access to treatment and recovery services by providing a steady funding stream.
  • Improving FDA Response to the Opioid Crisis: Strengthens the FDA’s response to the crisis in several ways including by supporting the development of non-opioid pain treatments and by pushing the agency to do more to consider the risks of drugs that may be misused or abused.
    • Senator Manchin has pushed for research funding for non-opioid pain treatments through NIH, the VA, and other federal agencies.
    • Senator Manchin sent a letter to the FDA urging them to review all opioid medications to take into account the public health risks of these dangerous drugs.
  • Examining Opioid Prescription Limits: Requires the Secretary of HHS to issue a report on limiting opioid prescriptions.
    • Senator Manchin is a cosponsor of the Opioid Addiction Prevention Act of 2017 (S. 892), which would limit initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain to no more than 7 days.
  • Improving Youth Prevention and Recovery Services: Includes grant funding to strengthen youth prevention and recovery services, particularly in schools.
    • Senator Manchin has pushed for increased education on the dangers of opioids, particularly for youth. His successful amendment to CARA targeted resources to consumer education and his successful amendment to the Every Student Succeeds Act ensured that schools could use federal education funds to support students dealing with substance abuse. He has strongly supported funding mental healthcare and counseling services in schools and through after school programs.
  • Consumer and Provider Education: Advance awareness of the risks of opioid misuse and abuse by strengthening CDC’s efforts to educate consumers and providers.
    • Senator Manchin’s successful amendment to CARA targeted resources to consumer education.
    • Senator Manchin is a cosponsor of the Safer Prescribing of Controlled Substances Act (S. 1554), which would go much farther than this draft bill by requiring physicians to receive training on the safe prescribing of opioids before receiving or renewing their DEA license. Mandatory prescriber education is necessary to ensure that every medical professional who prescribes opioids is fully aware of the risks and dangers of these drugs.
  • Trauma-Informed Care for Youth: Includes funding to support programs that offer trauma-informed care for youth. Due to Senator Manchin’s efforts, the bill will specifically allow funding to go to programs like West Virginia’s Handle with Care program, which helps connect students who have been involved in traumatic events in the home, particularly related to substance use, to trauma informed care in the schools.
    • Senator Manchin has introduced legislation to authorize $10 million in federal funding to establish 5-year demonstration grants for states to address the impact of substance use related and other trauma on children and youth in public schools by strengthening or building Handle with Care programs. West Virginia’s Handle with Care program has helped children in all 55 counties in West Virginia get the support that they need and has served as a model for other states. Senator Manchin’s legislation would provide federal funding to build on this successful trauma-informed care model.
  • Improving Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs: Encourages providers to use PDMPs and improving interoperability between PDMPs and health IT systems.
    • Senator Manchin is a cosponsor of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act of 2017  (S.778), which would go even further to require the use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP) in all states that receive certain federal funding to combat opioid abuse and also requires states to make their PDMP data available to other states. PDMPs are electronic databases used to track the prescribing and dispensing of prescription drugs to patients.
  • Improving NIH’s Response: Encouraging research into non-addictive pain-killers, pain care, and signs/risk factors of substance use disorders.
    • Senator Manchin has pushed for research funding for non-opioid pain treatments through NIH, the VA, and other federal agencies.
  • Improving Coordination between FDA & CBP: Improving FDA’s tools for working with CBP to improve the detection and seizure of illegal drugs, including fentanyl.
    • Senator Manchin has been a leader in the fight to stop illicit fentanyl from coming into the United States.
  • Expands access to medication assisted treatment: Allows a wider array of medical professionals to prescribe MAT and codifies the higher number of patients that can be served by an individual doctor. Also provides funding to educate medical professionals on prescribing MAT.
  • Protecting people seeking treatment: clarifies the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to bring enforcement actions against opioid treatment scams, including deceptive treatment claims and bogus products.
    • Senator Manchin is a cosponsor of this legislation.
  • Support for communities and workers hit by the epidemic: Provides resources to communities and workers to provide treatment services and job training/transition services for those in recovery.
  • Improves Medicare and Medicaid policy to address the epidemic: Strengthens efforts to promote treatment and reduce opioid abuse among Medicare beneficiaries.
  • Support for babies with NAS: It clarifies that Medicaid can paid for babies with neo-natal abstinence syndrome in residential pediatric recovery centers.
    • Senator Manchin is a cosponsor of the CRIB Act, which would allow Medicaid payments to pay for care at locations like Lily’s Place, which provides residential care for babies with neo-natal abstinence syndrome and their parents.
  • Reauthorizes critical drug prevention programs including: ONDCP, the Drug-Free Communities grant program, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, and the drug court program.
  • Reforms DEA Quotas: Requires DEA to consider diversion, abuse, overdose deaths and public health impacts when setting quotas and requires them to justify any quota increase.
    • Senator Manchin has worked for several years with DEA and his colleagues to reform this process and get DEA to lower their opioid quotas. Due to pressure from the Senator and others, has finally taken this step, and this provision will further improve the process.
  •  Provider education: Requires HHS and DOJ to complete a plan for educating and training medical practitioners on prescribing controlled substances.
    • Senator Manchin has pushed for mandatory prescriber education on the dangers of opioids and addiction. This is a step in the right direction.
  • DEA enforcement: Requires the pharma industry to design systems to identify and report suspicious orders and requires DEA to establish a database for the collection of all suspicious orders.
    • Senator Manchin has led the fight to ensure that DEA has the tools it needs to go after the bad actors who are flooding our communities with opioids.

Contact: Jonathan Kott


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