Jaime Herrera Beutler Helps Lead Legislation to Prevent Opioid Deaths

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) along with U.S. Representatives Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), David Trone (MD-06), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Ann Kuster (NH-02), and G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) recently introduced legislation to help overdose victims by closing a dangerous information gap that keeps prescribers uninformed about a patient who overdoses.

The Improving Medicaid Programs’ Response to Overdose Victims and Enhancing (IMPROVE) Addiction Care Act would require state Medicaid programs to use jointly funded drug utilization review programs to increase access to treatment and boost safeguards for those on Medicaid who have experienced a non-fatal, opioid-related overdose.

“Long before COVID exacerbated the issue, the opioid epidemic was already touching every corner of Southwest Washington. That’s why I’m helping introduce the bipartisan IMPROVE Addiction Care Act which will provide prescribers with the information they need to help protect patients who have suffered from a nonfatal overdose, improve provider education on the risks of prescribing opioids, and connect addiction survivors to treatment options,” Herrera Beutler said. “I’m pleased to work with my colleagues on this crucial legislation to advance our goal of ending the destruction caused by opioid addiction.”

“In order to safely and effectively treat a patient who has previously experienced a non-fatal overdose, it is critical prescribers have access to their patient’s overdose history in order to prevent it from happening again,” Mullin said. “This legislation breaks down barriers to help Medicaid beneficiaries get access to the treatment they need and ensure providers have a clear picture of the patient’s history with opioid-related overdoses. We all know someone who has been affected by the opioid epidemic, whether it’s a family member or loved one, and it’s going to take all of us working together to put an end to this crisis.”

“We must do everything in our power to work together to prevent fatal opioid overdoses,” Trone said. “The IMPROVE Addiction Care Act will ensure that state Medicaid programs alert prescribers to their overdose history and connect them to treatment, saving countless lives.”

“Annual mortality from drug overdoses increased by over 30 percent last year,” Fitzpatrick said. “As Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force, I am proud to support the Bipartisan IMPROVE Addiction Care Act, which seeks to prevent fatal overdoses by ensuring doctors are better informed about the medical histories of their patients.”

“Physicians need to know when the opioids they have prescribed were involved in the overdose death of their patient, and providers need access to a patient’s full opioid use history to prevent future substance misuse and fatal overdoses,” Kuster said. “The IMPROVE Addiction Care Act would close dangerous loopholes in our health care system to ensure those on the frontlines of the addiction crisis have the information and resources they need to improve treatment for patients in New Hampshire and across the country who are struggling with addiction.”

“This bipartisan, common-sense bill will close the loop and inform providers of their patient’s previous nonfatal and fatal overdose following receipt of a legal opioid prescription,” Butterfield said. “By giving Medicaid providers access to this critical information providers will be better able to assist their patients and connect Medicaid beneficiaries to appropriate opioid use disorder treatment. Providers will gain insight into their own treatment and prescribing methods and will be able to make necessary adjustments to protect their patients and reduce risk of future overdoses.”

The IMPROVE Addiction Care Act would require that state Medicaid programs use their existing drug utilization review (DUR) programs to:

  • Alert prescribers to their patient’s previous nonfatal and fatal overdose;
  • Provide notice to providers if opioids prescribed to a patient were involved in an overdose;
  • Connect survivors to treatment after identifying individuals who have suffered a nonfatal, opioid-related overdose; and
  • Perform ongoing reviews of prescribing patterns and offer provider education.

More information on the legislation can be found here. Full text is available here.