Press Release

September 17, 2018
Senate Passes Cardin Measures to Fight Opioid Epidemic
"This is a comprehensive bill. It's bipartisan. It increases the federal government's response to this horrific epidemic that has left no community immune from its effects."

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) lauded Senate passage today of a package of bills to tackle the opioid epidemic facing the country. Included in the package are Cardin provisions that would expand the use of telehealth services for the treatment of opioid use, bundle payments for medication-assisted treatment under Medicare, study the expansion of successful peer support services and study how we can bring together housing-related services with substance-abuse programs to fight the paired problems of substance abuse and homelessness. 

“Every county in Maryland has a significant opioid problem and it is still growing across the country. There is no simple answer. It is a public health issue — we need to have health services available — but it is much more. We need a multi-disciplined approach if we are going to solve this,” said Senator Cardin. “The bipartisan bill passed by the Senate 99-1 today includes federal support for many creative solutions that are being used in Maryland and elsewhere. From stabilization centers to peer support services, we are working with communities to get them the resources they need. We are delivering on the request to increase funding through the 21st Century Cures Act. We are providing additional training and resources for first responders. We are changing reimbursement streams so that the cost of recovery methods does not stand in the way of getting a person the help they need. The Senate is asking the CDC to look deeper at the development of non-addictive painkillers and we give law enforcement greater ability to keep deadly fentanyl out of this country.”

Senator Cardin continued, “This is a comprehensive bill. It’s bipartisan. It increases the federal government’s response to this horrific epidemic that has left no community immune from its effects.”

Video of Senator Cardin speaking from the floor of the U.S. Senate Monday on this legislation can be viewed here.

Cardin Provisions:

Sec. 2102. Expanding the use of telehealth services for the treatment of opioid use disorder and other substance use disorders.

Expanding Telehealth Response to Ensure Addiction Treatment Act (e-TREAT) – Allows the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to waive outdated restrictions on telehealth reimbursement in Medicare for diagnosis and/or treatment of an opioid or other substance use disorder.

Sec. 2109 Demonstration testing coverage of certain services furnished by opioid treatment programs.

Comprehensive Opioid Management and Bundled Addiction Treatment (COMBAT) Act – Requires HHS to conduct a five-year demonstration project to test a bundled payment under Part B for medication assisted treatment services furnished by Opioid Treatment Programs.

Sec. 2202. Peer Support enhancement and evaluation review.

Peer Support Enhancement and Evaluation Review Act– Directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study state Medicaid programs that currently cover peer support services, which have shown to improve patient experiences and outcomes when treating substance abuse and prescription drug misuse.

Sec. 2212. Report on innovative State initiatives and strategies to provide housing-related services and supports to individuals strugging with substance use disorders under Medicaid.

Directs HHS to issue a report on innovative state inititiatives and housing related servces that state Medicaid programs may use to provide supports to Medicaid enrollees with substance use disorders who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness.

Additional Maryland Priorities:

Sec. 1101. Cures Funding Extension.

Reauthorizes and improves the state opioid targeted response grants from the 21st Century Cures Act.

Sec. 1401. Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers.

Authorizes a grant program through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for entities to establish or operate comprehensive opioid recovery centers that serve as a resource for the community.

Sec. 2401. Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention.

Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act- Prevents the shipment of synthetic opioids into the United States through the international mail system.

Sec. 3309. Protecting law enforcement officers from accidental exposure.

Protects law enforcement officers from accidental exposure by providing supplemental grants to law enforcement agencies to protect law enforcement from accidental exposure to dangerous narcotics. Grants may be used for purchasing portable equipment to test for fentanyl and other substances, training law enforcement officers and first responders on best practices, and purchasing protective equipment.