Press Releases

Bipartisan Heroin and Opioids Task Force Co-Chairs Applaud Senate Passage of Comprehensive Opioid Bill

Co-Chairs of the Bipartisan Heroin and Opioids Task Force, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH-02) and Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-NJ-03) released a statement following the final passage of bipartisan, bicameral, and comprehensive opioid legislation. The bill now heads to the president’s desk for signature into law. The Bipartisan Heroin and Opioids Task Force has been instrumental in crafting this legislation and has led many initiatives in Congress to better assist communities in fighting the opioid epidemic.

“As co-chairs of the Bipartisan Heroin and Opioids Task Force, we have spent this Congress developing policies and crafting an agenda to better serve our communities. Our measures bolster support for education and prevention, expand treatment and long-term recovery, as well as law enforcement and interdiction efforts. These were addressed in this compromise bill and will soon make our communities in New Hampshire and New Jersey more resilient against the opioid crisis,” said the co-chairs. “We’ve achieved real results through bipartisan actions and passing this legislation is an important step. A great number of the provisions in this bill were authored by members of the Bipartisan Heroin and Opioids Task Force and many more were endorsed by the Task Force. When Republicans and Democrats come together to tackle issues facing our constituents, real progress and solutions are made. We applaud the Senate for overwhelmingly passing this bill and we look forward to continuing to drive the national conversation on these vital issues.”

Both co-chairs had sponsored legislation included in the final bill. The SENIOR Communities Protection Act, authored by Rep. MacArthur, would close loopholes that allow criminals to put drugs on our streets. This bill gives Medicare the ability to protect seniors and stop criminals who are abusing stolen Medicare numbers. The STOP Fentanyl Deaths Act, authored by Rep. Kuster, would improve the nation’s response to the growing threat of synthetic opioids like fentanyl. This grant program would help public health laboratories better detect fentanyl and thereby alert public health officials and law enforcement.

The following policies were included in the compromise bill and have been endorsed by the Bipartisan Heroin and Opioids Task Force:

  • Jessie’s Law—Legislation that is intended to help doctors access a consenting patient’s prior history of addiction to make better clinical decisions when providing treatment and other health care.
  • Synthetic Drug Awareness Act—Legislation that would require a landmark study on the public health effects of the rise in synthetic drug use, like fentanyl, among adolescents.
  • Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act—Legislation that would require all Medicare Part D prescriptions to be transmitted electronically. This better helps address doctor shopping, forged prescriptions, and theft.
  • Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act—Legislation that would create pediatric care centers within Medicaid to treat babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome.
  • Addiction Treatment Access and Improvement Act—Legislation that would improve availability of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) by allowing physicians to treat up to 275 patients, permanently authorize physician assistants and nurse practitioners to provide buprenorphine and allow all Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to provide MAT.
  • Medicaid IMD Exclusion—Allows states to use Medicaid to pay for short-term treatment in facilities containing more than 16 beds.
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP) – Improves policies and resources for state PDMPs to ensure more responsible and safe opioid prescribing.

The Bipartisan Heroin and Opioids Task Force has grown to more than 100 members of Congress.