Sen. Warner introduces legislation to improve treatment for opioid abuse

opioid crisisU.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), along with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), introduced bipartisan legislation to establish new quality measures that would improve treatment for Americans battling opioid and substance addiction.

Quality measures help establish national standards of care, used by health care professionals, when treating illnesses, diseases, cancer or other national health epidemics. 

In order to break the cycle of addiction, patients seeking treatment must have access to quality care that is proven to be safe and effective. However, a lack of standard quality measures for opioid and abuse treatment has led to gaps in care for patients suffering from addiction. In order to address this problem, the Addiction Treatment Quality Improvement Act would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to work with a coalition of healthcare providers to identify treatment gaps. Most importantly, the legislation will require CMS to develop a plan to eliminate the identified treatment gaps to ensure the best course of treatment for patients to overcome their addiction.

“The national opioid crisis has affected every corner of our nation. In order to address this national health epidemic that has claimed too many lives, we need to make sure that Americans seeking help have access to safe and effective treatment,” said Sen. Warner.

“One of the most effective ways to reverse the tide of the opioid epidemic is to make sure those battling addiction receive quality care. Addiction exists everywhere. So should the battle to end it. This bipartisan legislation directs federal agencies to develop nationwide quality measures to prevent gaps in care and ensure a level of consistency in care for patients across the country,” said Sen. Grassley. 

“The opioid crisis is wreaking havoc on communities in Florida and nationwide,” said Sen. Nelson. “This bill aims to help those addicted get the best course of treatment.”

“APTA supports this important legislation that will gather meaningful data related to the opioid crisis, and support measure development, implementation, and alignment,”said Justin Elliott, Vice President of Government Affairs at American Physical Therapy Association.

“Patients need to know their care is safe and effective and this bill will identify opportunities to best assess and improve quality.  I applaud Senators Warner and Grassley for their leadership and continued commitment to drive quality improvement for the millions Americans and their loved ones affected by this tragic epidemic,” said Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, President and CEO, National Quality Forum.

“In addressing the nation’s opioid crisis, the actions we take must be effective and evidence-based.  The Addiction Treatment Quality Improvement Act is an essential step in ensuring that the resources devoted to opioid and substance use disorders are making a difference.  Senators Warner and Grassley are making an important contribution toward solving this public health challenge.  We applaud their efforts and support this legislation,” said Mary R. Grealy, President, Healthcare Leadership Council.

In the Senate, Sen. Warner has been working on ways to combat the opioid crisis that has had a devastating effect for communities in Virginia. Last week, the Senate passed afunding bill that includes $5.7 billion to respond to the opioid crisis. In addition, the Senate passed a comprehensive opioid package that includes four of Sen. Warner’s proposals to expand the use of telehealth services for substance abuse treatment and improve data sharing on substance use disorders.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

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