To address the opioid crisis, a bipartisan bill was put forth by members of the senate in late February 2018. CARA 2.0 is being sold as a sequel to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of late 2016, which was the last major bill to address the opioid epidemic. Since then thousands of people continue to die each year impose new rules for prescribing opioids. The bill also offers six new policies. The bill’s new rules, as outlined by Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) office, are as follows:
Establish a three-day limit on initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain, with exceptions for chronic pain or pain for other ongoing illnesses. Permanently let physician assistants and nurse practitioners prescribe buprenorphine, a highly effective treatment for opioid addiction, with guidance from a qualified physician.
Let states waive the cap on how many patients each doctor can prescribe buprenorphine to, Require doctors and pharmacists to use prescription drug monitoring programs before prescribing or dispensing opioids. Increase civil and criminal penalties for opioid manufacturers if they fail to report suspicious orders or don’t do enough to prevent diversion. Create a national standard for addiction recovery housing.
According to VOX, the bill breakdown sets forth: $1 billion for various efforts: $300 million to medications for opioid addiction (the gold standard of care); $300 million to expand first responder training and access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone; $200 million to better support people moving from treatment into long-term recovery; $100 million to expand treatment for pregnant and postpartum women; and another $100 million would go to a variety of treatment, criminal justice, and education programs.
As important as the bill is, experts agree, not just $1 billion is needed, but tens of billions of dollars, to fully address the opioid crisis. Still, it is good news that the senate is addressing the devastating epidemic though it’s not clear if the bill will pass.
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