Last week, House and Senate committees continued working to advance legislation to address the opioid and substance abuse epidemic in the country. The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to approve more than 50 bills.

The proposals are expected to be joined into an omnibus bill and debated on the House floor sometime in June. The bills seek to address several aspects of the epidemic including, development of non-opioid painkillers, strengthening prescription drug monitoring programs and testing new protocols for pain relief in hospitals.

Two measures are especially important for hospitals: H.R. 5795 and H.R. 5797:

  • H.R. 5795 aligns 42 CFR Part 2 regulations on confidentiality of substance use disorder treatment records with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) privacy rules for the purposes of treatment, payment and health care operations. This measure is important to providers’ efforts to effectively coordinate care, especially in emergency departments.
  • H.R. 5797 allows states to receive federal matching funds for up to 30 days per year for services provided in an Institution of Mental Disease (IMD) to adult Medicaid beneficiaries with an opioid use disorder. The provision would be in effect between FY 2019 – 2023.

Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary and Finance Committees passed a number of bipartisan bills, one that would reauthorize the Office of National Drug Control Policy.  These proposals are anticipated to be incorporated into legislation that was adopted by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in April.