December 2018

Opioid Legislation Signed into Law

On October 24, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT Act) was signed into law. This comprehensive legislation addresses the United States opioid crisis. It also takes steps to augment and enhance the nationwide system for preventing and treating opioid addiction.

Nationally, in 2016, nearly 64,000 people died of drug overdoses across the United States. Approximately two-thirds of these deaths were linked to opioids.1 Opioids were linked to one in five deaths, or 20% of all deaths, for adults ages 25-34.1

Overall, the SUPPORT Act aims to improve a wide range of public health measures and law enforcement tools to address the opioid epidemic, from approval and oversight of existing opioid therapies and prescribing practices to the development of technologies to detect illegally imported narcotics. More specifically, the law lifts a decades-old Medicaid restriction on payment for inpatient addiction treatment. It will also expand access to medication-assisted treatment, known as the gold standard of addiction care, and will allow Medicare to reimburse for some of these services.

  1. Seth P, Scholl L, Rudd RA, Bacon S. Overdose Deaths Involving Opioids, Cocaine, and Psychostimulants — United States, 2015–2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:349–358. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6712a1

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