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Shaheen, Capito, Portman, Manchin Introduce Legislation to Address Opioid Epidemic

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation, the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation (NOPAIN) Act, with Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). The legislation aims to help address barriers to non-opioid pain management for those enrolled in Medicare, which will help stem the opioid epidemic across the nation.

“As Granite Staters grapple with dual crises imposed by the pandemic and the worsened opioid epidemic, we must address substance misuse as holistically and comprehensively as possible,” said Shaheen. “This bipartisan bill would help stem opioid misuse by encouraging doctors to prescribe alternatives to opioids for Medicare patients struggling with pain management. Turning the tide on the opioid epidemic must be at the top of Congress’ agenda, and I’ll keep working across the aisle to find common-sense ways to help Granite Staters from developing addictions and becoming victims of this deadly epidemic.”

Under current law, hospitals receive the same payment from Medicare regardless of whether a physician prescribes an opioid, or uses a non-opioid for post-surgical pain. As a result, hospitals rely on opioids, which are typically dispensed by a pharmacy after discharge at little or no cost to the hospital. The NOPAIN Act would change this policy by directing CMS to provide separate Medicare reimbursement for non-opioid treatments used to manage post-surgical pain in both the hospital outpatient department (HOPD) and the ambulatory surgery center (ASC) settings.

Shaheen has spearheaded crucial legislation and funding to stem the opioid epidemic, including through her leadership on the pivotal Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. In government funding legislation signed into law in 2019, Shaheen included a key provision from her standalone bill – the Turn the Tide Act – to provide flexibility for treatment providers to use State Opioid Response (SOR) grant dollars to help patients suffering from meth and cocaine dependency, in addition to opioid use disorder. Shaheen wrote the provision in response to discussions with New Hampshire treatment providers. Shaheen retained this provision in government funding legislation for fiscal year (FY) signed into law in December. The FY2021 funding legislation also $1.5 billion in SOR grant funding, as well as the continuing of a 15 percent set-aside that Shaheen fought to secure in 2018. Over the past four years, New Hampshire has received approximately $92 million from these grants to combat the opioid epidemic in the state, with the hardest-hit state set-aside responsible for the majority of those funds. The COVID relief package provides $4.25 billion in funding for substance use disorder treatment and mental health care, recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic can compound the nation’s substance use disorder epidemic.