July 13, 2016

Kaine Statement On Senate Passage Of Bicameral Compromise Bill To Fight Opioid Abuse Epidemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement after the Senate voted to pass bipartisan and bicameral compromise legislation to expand opioid abuse prevention and education efforts. The bill, which includes provisions authored by Kaine, takes a comprehensive approach to addressing a crisis that claimed more lives in Virginia in 2014 than vehicle crashes. 

“I’ve seen firsthand how significant an impact the opioid and heroin abuse epidemic is having on communities and families in Virginia. More Virginians now die from these overdoses than car accidents, and law enforcement currently lacks the tools to save more lives. I’m pleased this bill will encourage co-prescribing of naloxone – a life-saving drug – alongside opioid prescriptions and also implements a measure to protect the elderly from medication abuse. I worked with a bipartisan group of colleagues to draft and introduce these provisions. Lastly, while I am pleased Congress was able to work in a bipartisan way to address this crisis,  I am disappointed that Republicans have not provided emergency funding, which is critically needed for state substance abuse programs, law enforcement, treatment and other priorities authorized in this bill.” 

Two provisions sponsored by Kaine were included in the compromise legislation. The first is a bipartisan amendment cosponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), that protects seniors from medication abuse. It was based on legislation Kaine introduced last year called the Stopping Medication Abuse and Protecting Seniors Act Additionally, the conference report includes language authorizing Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription plans to utilize a patient review and restriction tool, or ”lock-in” measure. This measure would help identify individuals at risk of addiction, connect them with resources, and restrict them to one pharmacy and one provider when accessing controlled substances. 

The compromise legislation also includes language to encourage naloxone co-prescribing in federal health settings. Kaine authored the Co-prescribing Saves Lives Act, a bipartisan bill that would encourage physicians to co-prescribe the life-saving drug Naloxone alongside opioid prescriptions and would make it more widely available in federal health settings. 

Nationwide, heroin and opioids account for approximately 25,000 deaths per year. CARA will expand the availability of Naloxone to first responders and law enforcement. The overdose antidote has reversed more than 26,000 overdose cases between 1996 and 2014. CARA will also support additional resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals struggling with substance use disorders, expand drug take-back efforts to promote safe disposal of unused or unwanted prescriptions, and launch prescription opioid and heroin treatment and intervention programs. The conference report passed the House by a vote of 407-5. 

###