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Senator Toomey Statement on Passage of Sweeping Opioid Bill

October 3, 2018
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Washington, D.C. Today, the Senate overwhelmingly approved the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act. This legislation, which includes four provisions authored or coauthored by Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), will now head to the president for his signature.

"Congress has taken another important step forward in fighting the horrendous opioid crisis by providing significant assistance to aid treatment, prevention, and law enforcement," said Senator Toomey. "Notably, this bill plugs a glaring hole in the Medicare program by ensuring doctors are actually notified if their patient has previously overdosed before writing them another opioid prescription."

Background:

Below are summaries of all four of the Toomey-led provisions.

• Encouraging Appropriate Prescribing for Victims of Overdose in Medicare Act: A recent study in Pennsylvania of individuals who had suffered non-fatal overdoes showed around 60 percent received legal opioid painkiller prescriptions before the life-threatening event and around 60 percent received legal opioid painkiller prescriptions in the following six months. This important provision uses current drug utilization management tools within Medicare to encourage appropriate prescribing for victims of opioid-related nonfatal overdoses. After the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) identifies individuals who have nearly died from overdosing on opioids, CMS shares this information with prescription drug plans, which must notify the beneficiary and the prescriber (beneficiary also receives information on treatment and rights of appeal). The bill was introduced as an amendment by Senator Toomey and adopted by a bipartisan vote of 16-11 in the Senate Finance Committee.

• Strengthening Partnerships to Prevent Opioid Abuse Act (S. 2905): Building on recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS OIG), the Strengthening Partnerships to Prevent Opioid Abuse Act creates an online portal through which prescription drug plans would be required to report opioid overprescribing and refer suspected cases of fraud and abuse to CMS. Using this portal, CMS is also required to inform plans of corrective actions taken regarding providers who have engaged in fraud and abuse, facilitate the sharing of referral information between plans, and inform plans of the resolution of their referrals. Senator Toomey introduced this legislation with Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

• Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act (S. 2460): If widely adopted, electronically prescribing controlled substances instead of using paper scripts would help reduce prescription forgery, doctor shopping, prescribing errors, and provide accurate, up-to-date information for prescribers considering the best course of treatment for patients with pain. Unfortunately, evidence suggests controlled substance prescriptions are only written and sent electronically 21 percent of the time, while for non-controlled substances the same statistic is around 90 percent. This proposal mandates electronic prescribing for controlled substances in Medicare Part D. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced this legislation with Senators Toomey, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Dean Heller (R-NV).

• Commit to Opioid Medical Prescriber Accountability and Safety for Seniors (COMPASS) Act (S. 2920): This bill requires CMS to, in consultation with stakeholders, establish a threshold based on specialty and geographic area, for which a prescriber is considered an outlier opioid prescriber. CMS then notifies prescribers identified as outliers of their status. This process acts as a flag to prescribers to encourage them to evaluate their practices. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced this legislation with Senator Toomey.