Senator Markey Provisions Included in Senate-Passed Legislation to Combat Opioid Epidemic
Markey will continue to work to expand medication assisted treatment in final opioid law
Washington (September 18, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today praised U.S. Senate passage of opioid legislation that includes two of his provisions to combat the prescription drug, heroin, and illicit fentanyl epidemic. The first provision would address increased rates of infectious diseases caused by injection drug use, such as HIV or viral hepatitis. Massachusetts had more reported cases of hepatitis C than any other state in 2015, the same year the Commonwealth peaked in overdose deaths caused by illicit opioids. The second Markey provision would create a national plan to measure progress in fighting the opioid crisis. It would help federal agencies understand whether policies and resources are being used in ways that have a measurable impact on the public’s health.
“When people are sick, they get a treatment plan. The United States desperately needs a nationwide treatment plan to fight the opioid crisis and this legislation will help create one to fight the addiction and diseases caused by opioid use disorders,” said Senator Markey.
“But we have more work to do to combat this scourge. If we are going to reduce the supply of addictive opioids, then we have to reduce the demand through treatment. I will continue to work with my colleagues to increase access to effective medication-assisted treatment by expanding upon my 2016 law that, for the first time, allowed trained nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to provide life-saving therapies such as buprenorphine.
“I thank Senators Alexander and Murray who worked closely on a bipartisan basis to create and refine this important legislative package.”
Eliminating Opioid-Related Infectious Diseases Act (S.2579)
In March 2018, Senators Markey, Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) introduced legislation that would authorize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand the scope of an existing CDC initiative to focus on eliminating infectious diseases caused by injection drug use. This includes working with states to improve education, surveillance, and treatment of opioid use-related infectious diseases like HIV and viral hepatitis.
National Milestones to Measure Progress in Ending the Opioid Epidemic Act (S.2931)
In May 2018, Senators Markey, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) introduced the Milestones Act, legislation that would require the federal government to set tangible benchmarks for how it is addressing the opioid crisis and by measuring progress on key objectives each year. These objectives include reducing overdose deaths, expanding treatment availability, increasing the number of individuals in sustained recovery, and decreasing emergency room visits for overdoses.