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Kaine Cosponsors Legislation to Increase Access to Non-Opioid Pain Management Treatments

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, announced his cosponsorship of the Alternatives to Prevent Addiction in the Nation (Alternatives to PAIN) Act, bipartisan legislation that would help prevent substance use disorder by expanding access to non-opioid treatments for older Americans by making alternative pain management treatments more affordable under Medicare Part D.

“I’ve heard from communities across the Commonwealth about the challenges of overcoming substance use disorder,” said Kaine. “This commonsense, bipartisan legislation would help protect Virginians and Americans across the country from substance use disorder by making non-opioid pain relievers more affordable for older Americans.”

Under current law, older Americans on Medicare are pushed into the cheapest pain management option, which is frequently an opioid prescription. This increases their risk of substance use disorder and overdose. In 2021, more than 1.1 million Medicare beneficiaries were diagnosed with opioid use disorder, and more than 50,000 overdosed on opioids. Tragically, fewer than 20% of those diagnosed received medication to treat their substance use disorder.

This legislation would address these issues by:

  • Limiting cost-sharing for patients receiving non-opioid based pain relief under Medicare Part D plans;
  • Prohibiting the utilization of step therapy and prior authorization for these drugs; and
  • Encouraging the continued dialogue between patients and their healthcare professionals about preferences in pain management choices. 

Kaine has long championed efforts to combat the opioid crisis and expand access to treatment. Last year, President Biden signed into law the NOPAIN Act, legislation Kaine pushed for, that makes alternative pain management treatments more affordable under Medicare Part B. Also last year, significant portions of Kaine’s bipartisan Disrupt Fentanyl Trafficking Act were signed into law to direct increased federal attention to fentanyl trafficking, by utilizing Pentagon tools like counter-drug intelligence and involving Mexico as an active partner to combat the crisis and disrupt cartel activity in Mexico. This year’s national security package that was passed in April included the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, legislation Kaine advocated for, that strengthens current laws and will target and sanction transnational criminal organizations that traffic fentanyl to our communities.

Three of Kaine’s bipartisan bills to address the substance use crisis—the Providing Empathetic and Effective Recovery (PEER) Support Act, the Strengthening Communities of Recovery Act, and the Advancing Research for Chronic Pain Act—were passed by the HELP Committee in 2023. The bills would codify the Office of Recovery at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and cut red tape for peer support specialists who serve individuals recovering from a mental health condition or substance use disorder; reauthorize and expand the Building Communities of Recovery grant program, which provides resources for community-based organizations to develop and improve recovery services, including peer support, advocacy, education, employment assistance, and outreach to families and communities impacted by substance use disorder; and advance research and help clinicians and scientists more effectively study chronic pain conditions, respectively.

Kaine has also cosponsored the Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act, which would increase access to telehealth services for individuals with substance use disorder by permanently removing an in-person exam requirement for providers to prescribe substance use disorder treatments. Kaine’s bipartisan STOP TRANQ Act would require the State Department to provide detailed reporting on global xylazine trafficking networks. Xylazine, or “tranq” is powerful sedative that is increasingly used as an additive to fentanyl to devastating effect.

The legislation is led by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ).

The Alternatives to Prevent Addiction in the Nation (Alternatives to PAIN) Act is supported by the following organizations: Voices for Non-Opioid Choices, Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Psychological Association Services, Asheville Equine Therapy, A Voice in the Wilderness Empowerment Center, CA Black Health Network, Center of Addiction & Faith, Chatham Drug Free, Clean Living Exceptional Alternative Recovery Residences (CLEARR), Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center, Healing On The Fly Inc, Hep Free Hawaii, Herren Project, Journey House Foundation, Medicare Rights Center, Mental Health America of Illinois, Michigan Women Veterans Empowerment, National Association of Social Workers, National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Rural Health Association, National Safety Council, National Transitions of Care Coalition, Partnership to End Addiction, Pledge for Life Partnership, Prevention Action Alliance, PTSD Awareness Summit, Operation First Response, Inc, Overdose Lifeline, Real Life Program, RetireSafe, Salvage USA, Shatterproof, She Recovers Foundation, Society for Opioid-Free Anesthesia, Society of Behavioral Medicine, South End – Roxbury, Community Partnership, Team Sharing, Inc., The Battle Within, The Zellner Foundation for Military Vets, U.S. VETS, VetPark, Veterans National Recovery Center, Voices For Awareness, Warren Coalition, Warrior Path Home, West Warwick Prevention Coalition, Will Bright Foundation, and Young People in Recovery. 

Full text of the legislation is available here.