Welch’s Bipartisan Opioid Amendment Clears Committee Hurdle, Heads to House Floor for Vote
WASHINGTON – The House Energy and Commerce Committee today approved an initiative by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) that would help law enforcement gain access to real-time information on drug overdoses. The Examining Opioid Treatment Infrastructure Act (H.R. 4982), as amended by Welch’s initiative, was unanimously approved by the committee and will now head to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote.
The bill requires the Comptroller General to evaluate and report on the inpatient and outpatient treatment capacity, availability, and needs within U.S. communities. Welch’s amendment would expand the report to identify barriers at the federal, state, and local levels to reporting information on drug overdoses to law enforcement in real-time. It would also require the report to include suggestions of ways to overcome those barriers with the goal of helping law enforcement quickly identify when, where, and how overdoses are occurring.
“The opioid epidemic is taking a heavy toll on families and communities across Vermont,” Rep. Welch said. “We need all hands on deck to tackle this crisis. That includes giving law enforcement tools for accurate and real-time reporting so it can identify where overdoses are occurring and prevent them where possible.”
Welch’s amendment, cosponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-VW), was included in a package of bills approved by the Committee that tackles various aspects of the opioid epidemic.
Other bills approved by the Committee today include:
• The Nurturing and Supporting Healthy Babies Act (H.R. 4978) requires the Comptroller General to submit to Congress a report on neonatal abstinence syndrome in the United States and its treatment under Medicaid.
• H.R. 4641 would establish an inter-agency task force to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication.
• The Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act of 2015 (H.R. 1818) establishes a demonstration program for states with a shortage of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to streamline state requirements and procedures to assist veterans who completed military EMT training to meet state EMT certification, licensure, and other requirements.
• The Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Expansion and Modernization Act (H.R. 4981) allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants to dispense medication assisted treatment in accordance with state laws and the supervision of a physician. It would also increase the cap on the number of patients a physician may treat to 250 per year (with additional training).
• The DXM Abuse Prevention Act of 2015 (H.R. 3250) prohibits the sale of drugs containing dextromethorphan (DXM), which is typically found in over the counter cold medicines, to individuals under age 18 without a prescription.
• The John Thomas Decker Act (H.R. 4969) would require the CDC to provide informational materials to help educate and prevent addiction in teenagers and adolescents who are injured playing youth sports and are subsequently prescribed an opioid.
• The Reducing Unused Medications Act of 2016 (H.R. 4599) would amend the Controlled Substances Act to permit partial fillings of schedule II prescriptions.
• The Opioid Review Modernization Act (H.R. 4976) would create an advisory committee to provide recommendations regarding the FDA approval of new opioids without abuse-deterrent properties.