BREAKING: House Passes Fitzpatrick Opioid Bill
Washington, DC – Bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) to combat the opioid epidemic unanimously passed the House Tuesday afternoon. The REACH OUT Act will ensure that prescribers have the necessary tools for preventing prescription drug abuse.
The Responsible Education Achieves Care and Healthy Outcomes for Users’ Treatment (REACH OUT), H.R. 5796, will direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to work with eligible entities, including Quality Improvement Organizations, to engage in outreach with prescribers identified as clinical outliers to share best practices following evaluation of their prescribing behavior.
“Fighting back against the opioid epidemic requires a clear and bipartisan approach that responds to the real-world concerns expressed by local lawmakers, community leaders and healthcare professionals across the country. Today, the House acted and passed my bipartisan bill to ensure that our medical professionals possess the latest tools for preventing prescription abuse, including non-opioid pain management,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. “By facilitating outreach to outlier opioid prescribers, the REACH OUT Act seeks to educate physicians on their prescribing behaviors without limiting their ability to deliver patient care. It will be an effective step towards reducing the amount of unnecessary prescription opioids in communities across the nation.”
The legislation would build on the lessons learned from CMS special innovation projects by spreading best practices for preventing prescription abuse, providing outreach and education about non-opioid pain management, and reducing the number of opioids prescribed by outlier prescribers. An outlier prescriber is identified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with professional stakeholders, as one who prescribes an excessive number of opioids as compared to other prescribers in their medical specialty and geographic area.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:
- From Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): “Knowledge is power in combating America’s opioid crisis. Because of Brian’s tireless work, more prescribers will be able to share best practices for prescribing these highly addictive substances. I am grateful for Brian’s leadership to get this bill closer to President Trump’s desk and into law.”
- From Rep. Mike Thomson (D-CA), REACH OUT Act co-author: “An important piece of combatting the opioid epidemic is giving providers the tools they need to prescribe opioids safely. By educating providers who’ve been identified as excessive prescribers of opioids on best practices or pain management alternatives, we can help them improve care delivery without micromanaging their prescribing practices. That’s why I coauthored the Reach Out Act to give doctors technical assistance to take these steps to reduce opioid prescription in the first place. Our work to fight this crisis must continue so we can promote access to treatment to help the thousands of Americans still suffering.”
- From Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), REACH OUT Act, co-author: “The opioid crisis is not just a South Florida issue, but a national epidemic that has devastated communities across the country. I was proud to co-sponsor the REACH OUT Act and ensure we are facilitating necessary outreach and education about non-opioid alternatives for pain management to reduce the number of opioids being prescribed.”
- From Clare Bradley MD, MPH, President of the American Health Quality Association: “The American Health Quality Association applauds Congressman Fitzpatrick’s leadership fighting for essential resources to combat the opioid epidemic. Opioids now account for an astonishing 39 million Medicare Part D claims each year and CDC data indicates that 90,000 patients in the U.S. are currently at serious risk of harm from opioids. Medical professionals prescribing opioids are key stakeholders to help reduce, and ultimately prevent, inappropriate opioid prescriptions. The REACH OUT Act establishes a national program to provide efficient, low-cost, high-value interventions to help prescribers implement best practices for prescribing opioids. This legislation will improve the quality of health care in the country and keep unnecessary opioid prescriptions out of circulation.”