Herrera Beutler, Fitzpatrick offer bipartisan bill to improve opioid addiction care

U.S. Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) this week introduced a bipartisan bill that they say would end the reckless opioid prescribing that puts Medicaid beneficiaries at risk of misuse and overdose.

The congressmen cosponsored the Improving Medicaid Programs’ Response to Overdose Victims and Enhancing (IMPROVE) Addiction Care Act, H.R. 4203, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and fellow original cosponsor U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-MD).

The bill would require state Medicaid programs to use jointly funded drug utilization review programs to increase access to treatment and boost safeguards for those on Medicaid who have experienced a non-fatal, opioid-related overdose.

“Long before COVID exacerbated the issue, the opioid epidemic was already touching every corner of southwest Washington. That’s why I’m helping introduce the bipartisan IMPROVE Addiction Care Act which will provide prescribers with the information they need to help protect patients who have suffered from a nonfatal overdose, improve provider education on the risks of prescribing opioids, and connect addiction survivors to treatment options,” Rep. Herrera Beutler said. “I’m pleased to work with my colleagues on this crucial legislation to advance our goal of ending the destruction caused by opioid addiction.”

H.R. 4203 also would require that state Medicaid programs use their existing drug utilization review programs to provide notice to providers if opioids prescribed to a patient were involved in an overdose, connect survivors to treatment after identifying individuals who have suffered a nonfatal, opioid-related overdose, and perform ongoing reviews of prescribing patterns and offer provider education, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

“Annual mortality from drug overdoses increased by over 30 percent last year,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “As co-chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force, I am proud to support the Bipartisan IMPROVE Addiction Care Act, which seeks to prevent fatal overdoses by ensuring doctors are better informed about the medical histories of their patients.”