Casey Looks to Help Youngest, Oldest Victims of the Opioid Epidemic

Senator Introduces Two Bipartisan Bills to Expand Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatment for Infants, Seniors

Casey Looks to Help Youngest, Oldest Victims of the Opioid Epidemic

Washington, D.C. – Pennsylvania infants, mothers, grandparents and everyone in between are harmed by the opioid epidemic. To address this crisis, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced two bipartisan bills aimed at helping both the oldest and youngest victims of the epidemic.  Casey, alongside U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), introduced the Protecting Moms and Infants Act, to build upon their earlier Protecting Our Infants Act, which was the first federal law to address prenatal opioid exposure. With U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Casey introduced the Medicare Beneficiary Opioid Addiction Treatment Act, legislation that would allow older adults and people with disabilities to access critical opioid treatment medication.

“The opioid epidemic is not bound by age. Some of our youngest and some of our oldest friends, relatives and neighbors have been impacted this ongoing crisis,” said Senator Casey. “We have a sacred responsibility to find solutions that help everyone who may be affected. I’m confident that these bipartisan solutions will do a great deal to advance treatment efforts and I urge my colleagues to join in the fight.”

More on the Protecting Moms & Infants Act:

This legislation builds upon Casey and McConnell’s 2015 bill, the Protecting Our Infants Act (POIA), which was the first federal law to address prenatal opioid exposure. The aim of the POIA was to develop a strategy to prevent prenatal exposure to opioids, treat infants born with opioid withdrawal, and improve the states’ public health response to this growing problem. Specifically, it instructed the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a review of the agency’s activities related to prenatal opioid abuse and treating infants born dependent on opioids. After subsequent legislation challenging the agency to follow Congress’ timeline, a number recommendations were published in 2017. This new legislation requests the Secretary of HHS to provide Congress with a report on the implementation of the comprehensive strategies developed as required by POIA and also authorizes an increase in funding for a competitive federal grant that promotes access to residential treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum women.

More on the Medicare Beneficiary Opioid Addiction Treatment Act:

Opioid use disorder is a growing problem among older adults and people with disabilities, as nearly 12 million people with Medicare were prescribed opioids in 2015. In fact, the President’s FY2019 budget request proposes to test and expand Medicare treatment options, including reimbursing for methadone. Methadone is a physician-prescribed medication that is used as an evidence-based treatment for the most severe opioid use disorders. This legislation would break down existing barriers to treatment, by providing coverage for methadone under Medicare Part B and allowing seniors and people with disabilities to receive this important medication in their doctor’s office. The bill is supported by the American Medical Association, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Medicare Rights Center and National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.