Press Releases

Final Package Includes Heller Bills to Help Treat Newborns and Pregnant Women Suffering from Addiction, Combat Fraudulent Prescriptions

WASHINGTON – Eight pieces of legislation that U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) either authored or co-authored to help fight Nevada’s opioid crisis are now on their way to the President’s desk as part of a larger legislative package called the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. Specifically, this legislation includes Heller’s provisions to expand access to treatment for pregnant women struggling with substance abuse disorders and newborns who are suffering from withdrawal, as well as a measure that would streamline the prescription process to combat fraudulent prescribing.

Every 25 minutes a baby is born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a withdrawal condition that can occur in newborns after exposure to opioids during pregnancy. In Nevada, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported a 300 percent increase in the number of infants born with NAS. As an advocate for expanding treatment for babies born in opioid withdrawal, Heller worked with his colleagues to see that the Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act was included in the landmark opioids package. Specifically, the CRIB Act allows Medicaid to cover health care services provided to infants in residential pediatric recovery facilities in addition to hospitals. This critical bill will help babies suffering from addiction recover in the best care setting. 

The legislative package headed to the President’s desk also includes the Help for Moms and Babies Act, another bipartisan bill that Heller co-authored. This legislation would help ensure women who are receiving care for a substance use disorder in a treatment facility receive prenatal and postpartum services.

“One of my top priorities is combating the opioid crisis, which is affecting communities across Nevada,” said Heller. “I am proud to see the U.S. Senate pass – with my strong support - this bipartisan package, which included eight of my provisions. The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act has the potential to save lives by helping prevent overdoses and providing our communities with the tools they need to make sure that those who need help get it. This bipartisan legislation is a perfect example of what Congress can accomplish when we work together, and I’m proud to help send it to the President’s desk.”

Heller also worked with his colleagues to ensure the inclusion of the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely (EPCS) Act in the opioid package to help eliminate duplicative or fraudulent prescriptions by requiring electronic prescriptions for controlled substances under Medicare. According to a Department of Justice report, misused prescription opioids are often obtained illegally using forged or altered prescriptions and by consulting multiple doctors. The report also determined that most prescription fraud remains undetected. The EPCS Act will generate real-time information on opioid use and streamline the prescription process for both providers and their patients.

Below is a full list of legislation included in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act that Heller either authored or co-authored:

  • S.2909, Assessing Barriers to Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Act (Heller/Bennet). This would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to identify barriers to doctors’ and pharmacists’ provision of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in Medicaid. This bill would help support states’ removing barriers so doctors and pharmacists can use the least burdensome MAT distribution methods. 
  • S.2911, Enhancing Patient Access to Non-Opioid Treatment Options (Heller/Casey). This legislation would clarify states’ legal authority to pursue non-opioid related prescribing. 
  • S.2921, Securing Flexibility to Treat Substance Use Disorders Act (Heller/Menendez). This legislation would codify the regulations permitting managed care plans to cover treatment in an institution for mental disease (IMD) for a certain number of days in a month in lieu of other types of services. 
  • S.2707, Informing Seniors about Opioids Act (Nelson/Heller). This legislation would update the “Medicare and You” handbook to include information about opioid use, pain management, and alternative pain management treatments.
  • S.2460, Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act (Bennet/Heller/Warren/Toomey). This legislation would direct health care providers to use electronic prescribing for controlled substances for Medicare Part D transactions.  Electronic prescriptions would generate real-time information on opioid use and streamline the prescription process for both providers and their patients.
  • S.2899, Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies Act (Brown/Portman/Capito/King/Manchin/Heller/Casey/Whitehouse). This legislation would recognize residential pediatric care centers within Medicaid to treat babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
  • S.2922, Help for Moms and Babies Act (Stabenow/Heller). This legislation would help ensure women who are receiving care for a substance use disorder in a treatment facility receive prenatal and postpartum services.
  • S.2769, Opioid Addiction Action Plan Act (Heller/Menendez). This legislation would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop a plan to prevent opioid addiction and increase access to medication-assisted treatment.

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