Mullin, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Prevent Fatal Overdoses, Support Opioid Victims

Today, U.S. Senators Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the Improving Medicaid Programs’ Response to Overdose Victims and Enhancing (IMPROVE) Addiction Care Act to provide greater assistance to individuals who have struggled with substance use disorder. U.S. Representatives David Trone (D-MD), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Annie Kuster (D-NH) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would require state Medicaid programs to use jointly-funded Drug Utilization Review programs to help connect patients to treatment and boost safeguards for those on Medicaid who have experienced a non-fatal, opioid-related overdose. The bill would also close a dangerous information gap that currently keeps prescribers from being informed about patients who overdose.

“We all know someone affected by the opioid epidemic, whether it’s a friend, family member, or neighbor,” said Senator Mullin. “To combat the overprescription of opioids, Congress must equip providers with Medicare patients’ overdose history to fully inform patient health, safety, and well-being. With access to patients’ previous nonfatal overdoses — one of the most significant predictors of a future overdose — prescribers can alter their prescriptions of controlled substances accordingly. This increased communication is key to improve health outcomes and tackle the prescription opioid crisis head-on.”

“Every West Virginian has experienced the impacts of the drug epidemic, and it’s clear we must do more to support local prevention, treatment and recovery efforts,” said Senator Manchin. “I’m proud to reintroduce the IMPROVE Addiction Care Act, which will strengthen Drug Utilization Review programs to ensure appropriate drug prescribing while also preventing misuse and abuse. Americans who have experienced an overdose need our help getting back on their feet through treatment programs, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense legislation.” 

“The opioid epidemic has plagued our country for too long, and patients need support – especially those in need of addiction management,” said Senator Carper. “I’m proud to support this bipartisan legislation that will require providers to communicate with each other while increasing access to care and treatment for Medicaid recipients.”

“With opioid overdose deaths skyrocketing across the country, particularly among Medicaid beneficiaries, it is essential that we take action to ensure patients are not recklessly prescribed these drugs,” said Senator Blackburn. “We need to ensure that Medicaid programs across the country have the tools to treat those who have experienced non-fatal opioid-related overdoses properly. The IMPROVE Addiction Care Act would help providers understand their patient’s history with opioids and make certain they receive safe treatment.” 

“As our nation continues to grapple with the opioid epidemic, we must take action to improve care of patients and protect against avoidable overdoses,” said Congressman Trone. “The IMPROVE Addiction Care Act will allow physicians to prevent future overdoses and make it more challenging for folks fighting substance use disorder to be prescribed an opioid that could do more harm than good. The overprescribing of opioids – such as Oxycontin – is one of the main contributing factors to this crisis, and now it’s on us to learn from our past mistakes.”

 “Fatal opioid overdoses are increasing at an alarming rate, specifically among Medicaid beneficiaries,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “Our bipartisan IMPROVE Addiction Care Act will help reverse this trend by giving prescribers information about patients’ previous nonfatal overdoses, as well as connecting survivors to adequate treatment. As co-chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force, I am always grateful to work with my colleagues on legislation that will reduce fatal overdoses and support individuals battling addiction.”

“The overprescription of opioids to Medicaid beneficiaries – including children – has exacerbated the substance use disorder epidemic and made this crisis even more deadly,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “We must take concrete steps to save lives. I am proud to help reintroduce this bipartisan legislation to ensure Medicaid providers understand their patient’s history with opioids and expand access to treatment and recovery resources.”

The IMPROVE Addiction Care Act would:

  1. Alert: Ensure that doctors are aware if their Medicaid-enrolled patient has suffered a previous nonfatal overdose and alert the prescriber when one of their patients suffers a fatal overdose.
  2. Treat: Connect recent opioid overdose survivors who receive Medicaid benefits with treatment opportunities.
  3. Educate: Perform ongoing reviews and offer provider education.

To learn more about the IMPROVE Addiction Care Act, please click here.

For full bill text, click here.