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Congress Passes Bill to Fight Opioid Crisis

Comprehensive bipartisan package earmarks billions of dollars to fight opioid abuse in the United States

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FRIDAY, Oct. 5, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- A bipartisan bill to fight the opioid addiction crisis in the United States has been passed by Congress. President Donald Trump said he would sign the bill into law.

As part of the legislation, the U.S. Postal Service would be required to track international packages and test them for drugs, and physician assistants and nurse practitioners would be allowed to prescribe addiction treatment medication, the Associated Press reported.

The bill would also make a number of changes to Medicare and Medicaid. For the first time, Medicare would be allowed to cover opioid treatment programs that administer methadone, one of three approved medications for opioid addiction. In 13 states, people aged 65 and older account for the highest rate of opioid-related inpatient stays, the AP reported. Currently, Medicaid does not pay for substance abuse treatment for anyone arrested and held in jail. The bill would require states to restore coverage for juveniles after their release from custody.

Other measures in the bill would make certain states eligible to receive $30 million grants to pay for job training for recovering addicts, and $25 million in grants would be shared by five states to house addicts who have completed treatment programs and have nowhere to live, the AP reported.

AP News Article

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