Congress Continues to Move Opioid Legislation

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Congress Continues to Move Opioid Legislation

What this means for ASCs

As summer approaches, our country’s top legislators are considering manifold measures to help improve opioid abuse. Just this week, the full US House of Representatives voted on dozens of bills, with dozens more on the docket for next week. On Tuesday, June 12, the US Senate Finance Committee voted 27-0 to send 22 unique measures, held collectively as the Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Abuse Disorders Act, to the whole Senate. Among numerous provisions, the HEAL Act would require health care professionals to use electronic prescribing for Medicare-covered drugs with certain controlled substances. In April, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee advanced the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, which comprises more than 40 provisions to help build innovation, research, product safety, treatment, recovery and other programs as they relate to opioids.


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Several notable measures, to be voted on by the full House next week, include the following:

  • Post-Surgical Injections as an Opioid Alternative would freeze several post-surgical pain codes in the ASC setting at their 2016 reimbursement rates. The rate freeze would last for five years and be exempt from budget neutrality requirements.
  • Postoperative Opioid Prevention Act of 2018 would encourage the use of non-opioid analgesics in post-surgical pain treatment.
  • Medicare Opioid Safe Treatment Act includes language to direct the secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services to examine and adjust payments under the Medicare outpatient prospective payment system to avoid financial incentives from prescribing opioids instead of non-opioid alternatives. If passed into law, ASC Medicare payment rates for opioids and non-opioid alternatives could change depending on the HHS Secretary’s review.

The above, along with more than 70 other House bills, will be combined into one package and sent to the Senate. The House should wrap up voting on opioid legislation in the next couple weeks, with full Senate consideration to come later in the summer.

ASCA staff continues to monitor this issue and will inform members as updates become available. This legislation is important not simply to help address the opioid epidemic, but also to support ASCs as they deliver innovative outpatient care in the community.

For more information on opioid legislation and other federal legislative activity, write Jeff Evans.