Category Archives: Health

Carter Bills to Combat the Opioid Crisis Signed into Law Today

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump today signed into law a bipartisan, bicameral package designed to combat the opioid epidemic. Included in the package are three bills introduced by Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.) as part of his ongoing efforts to end the epidemic.

“I am excited and proud that this package was signed into law today,” said Carter. “While working with members on both sides of the aisle to create these solutions to combat this crisis, I learned from constituents, colleagues, and others that everyone and every community has been impacted by this epidemic in some way. For me, as a pharmacist for more than 30 years, I saw addiction end careers and ruin lives and families. That is what has driven me to work so hard on this legislation to address prescription drug abuse while ensuring those who truly need the medications maintain access to it. It is great news this package is now law, and I am committed to continuing this strong bipartisan work to end this crisis once and for all.” 

President Trump signed the bicameral agreement on H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act into law today. The agreement works to combat the opioid crisis by addressing prevention, advancing treatment and recovery initiatives, and improving efforts to fight illicit synthetic drugs like fentanyl.

The package includes three bills introduced by Carter:

  • The Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act. Currently, federal law prohibits a medical practitioner from dispensing controlled substances through the internet without first evaluating the patient in-person. This legislation, the Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act, instructs the Attorney General to take the necessary steps to allow for the prescription of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and other controlled substances via telemedicine. It requires a special registration to connect patients with the treatment they need without risking important safeguards to prevent misuse or diversion.
  • The Abuse Deterrent Access Act. Abuse deterrent formulations (ADFs) represent a breakthrough technology that helps prevent the crushing, snorting, and injection of painkillers.  Currently, many prescription drug plans present access barriers for chronic pain patients to ADFs including cost-sharing tiers, fail-first requirements, and prior authorization requirements. Instead of receiving ADFs, often patients are limited to using traditional opioids that can be easily diverted, crushed, snorted, and injected. Carter’s legislation, the Abuse Deterrent Access Act of 2018, directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a study on barriers to accessing abuse deterrent opioid formulations for chronic pain patients enrolled in Medicare.
  • The Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act introduced with Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D-Ca.). This legislation would require federal agencies to develop and distribute materials to better educate pharmacists on when they are allowed by law to decline to fill a prescription for a controlled substance. These circumstances include the suspicion of fraud, forgery, or other forms of alteration.

Carter Joins President Trump as “Gag Clause” Prohibition Becomes Law

WASHINGTON – Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.) joined President Donald Trump today at the White House as he signed legislation to prohibit “gag clause” provisions into law.

Today, President Trump signed two Senate companion bills to Carter’s Know the Cost Act. These bills prohibit “gag clause” provisions in Medicare as well as in group or individual health plans.

Currently, Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) are able to include requirements in contracts that prevent pharmacists from providing advice to their patients on the best and cheapest out-of-pocket alternatives to medications covered under insurance. This is commonly known as a “gag clause.” As a result, patients may be paying more for their prescriptions than is warranted.

As the only pharmacist in Congress, Carter has been a leader in the fight to eliminate “gag clause” provisions.

“Today is a great day for patients,” said Carter. “I know firsthand how important it is for pharmacists to have the ability to work with patients to figure out what is in their best interest. Banning “gag clauses” will help ensure that is possible by allowing pharmacists to help patients access the lowest cost options.

“It was an honor to join the president today. Now, we must continue our work with President Trump to lower prescription drug prices and health care costs for all Americans.”

S. 2553, the Know the Lowest Price Act and S. 2554, the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act were signed into law today. The Know the Lowest Price Act prohibits “gag clause” provisions in Medicare while the Patients to Know Drug Prices Act prohibits “gag clause” provisions in groups and individual health plans.

Collins’ Bill Passes House as Part of Opioid Package

WASHINGTON—The House today passed a comprehensive package to fight the opioid epidemic. The agreement includes the Substance Abuse Prevention Act, introduced this May by Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) in the House. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced the bill in the Senate.

“America’s opioid crisis is as complex as it is devastating, which is why the House passed a sweeping plan to support victims of opioid abuse in their recovery and to protect others against addiction. Today’s vote and the inclusion of the Substance Abuse Prevention Act in the final bill reflects bicameral commitment to equipping families, victims and law enforcement with resources crucial to combating this epidemic. I hope that, with the president’s signature, it brings help to people in my corner of Georgia and beyond very soon,” said Collins.

 “As our country works to combat the opioid crisis, Congress has come together in a bipartisan way to support millions of Americans suffering from drug addiction and abuse,” Cornyn said.

“I’m glad the Substance Abuse Prevention Act was included in this legislation to help reduce demand for narcotics, fund recovery programs, and help law enforcement take dangerous drugs off the streets. I look forward to the President signing it soon so we can bring much-needed relief to suffering families and their loved ones.”

Overview of Substance Abuse Prevention Act as included in H.R. 6:

Office of National Drug Control Policy—Reauthorizes the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) at the White House, which oversees all Executive Branch efforts on narcotics control, including the development of a national drug control strategy, while ensuring that these efforts strengthen and complement state and local anti-drug activities.

Drug-Free Communities Program—Reauthorizes the Drug-Free Communities Program, one of our nation’s most important programs for preventing youth substance abuse and reducing demand for illicit narcotics at the community level.

Drug Courts—Reauthorizes Department of Justice funding for drug courts, which are on the front lines of preventing drug addiction through targeted interventions for individuals with drug addiction and substance abuse disorders. This legislation would also allow non-profit organizations to provide important training and technical assistance to drug courts.

High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Forces—Reauthorizes the ONDCP High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program, which provides funding for federal, state and local law enforcement task forces operating in our nation’s most critical drug trafficking regions. This legislation would also improve the program by targeting funds for implementation of a coordinated drug overdose response strategy, including coordination with public health officials and other multi-disciplinary efforts to reduce demand for narcotics and prevent drug abuse. It also provides supplemental grants to law enforcement agencies to protect law enforcement from accidental exposure to dangerous narcotics.

Public Awareness—Allows the ONDCP Director to participate in and expand opioid and heroin awareness campaigns authorized under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.

Protecting Families with Substance Abuse Challenges—Improves collaboration and provides resources to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help families stay together while battling substance abuse—including through screening, treatment, supportive housing and other interventions.

Better Substance Abuse Treatment—Directs the Government Accountability Office and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to report on improving substance abuse disorder treatment reimbursement to attract a more talented workforce. The bill also encourages better Medicaid substance abuse disorder reimbursement.

Educating Prescribers—Requires Attorney General and HHS Secretary to complete a plan for educating and training medical practitioners in best practices for prescribing controlled substances.

The Substance Abuse Prevention Act has support from the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, the Addiction Policy Forum, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Association for Children of Addiction, the National Association of Police Organizations, the Moyer Foundation, the National Council for Behavioral Health, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National HIDTA Directors Association, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, the National Criminal Justice Association and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.