Massive Bipartisan Bill to Fight Opioid Crisis Unveiled

After months of work, on Tuesday evening bipartisan lawmakers from both chambers in Congress unveiled a massive bill intended to fight the opioid crisis that has turned into an epidemic in recent months.

The 660-page legislation entails a number of measures aimed at fighting opioid abuse, such as lifting some limits on Medicaid paying for care at treatment facilities and cracking down on illicit opioid importing. The bill further encourages the development of non-addictive painkillers as an alternative to opioids, The Hill reports.

“Once signed into law, this legislation sends help to our communities fighting on the front lines of the crisis and to the millions of families affected by opioid use disorders,” the chairmen and ranking members in both chambers said in a joint statement after unveiling the text.

The bill has generally been seen as a positive step in the right direction, but some believe more funding is necessary to fight the crisis. Among them is Senator Elizabeth Warren, who says that a bill to provide $100 billion over the next decade is more in line with what is needed to achieve this goal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 42,000 people died of overdoses involving opioids in 2016 alone.

Drug companies, on their part, didn’t manage to get a provision attached to the measure that would have eased their costs in Medicare. The change would have rolled back a provision from February’s budget deal that raised drugmakers costs in Medicare’s coverage gap. Democratic lawmakers and some drug pricing companies opposed the provision which they claimed would be a “handout” to pharmaceutical companies.

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