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Senate Panel Set to Vote on Mental Health, Substance Abuse Bills

When the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee votes on mental health and substance abuse legislation Wednesday, the committee will also consider a manager’s amendment to the mental health bill that would create and reauthorize grants for mental health and substance abuse programs.

The amendment, from Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), would establish workplace training programs to detect eating disorders, reauthorize mental and behavioral health education and training grants, and instruct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to strengthen the National Violent Death Reporting System, among other provisions. News of the amendment was first reported by Politico.

In addition to the mental health bill, the committee will vote on a series of other bills on substance abuse:

S. 1455: The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act

This bill, sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), would raise the number of patients a qualified practitioner dispensing narcotics for maintenance or detoxification treatment is allowed to initially treat from 30 to 100 patients annually.

After a year, these qualified physicians would be able to treat an unlimited number of such patients if they participate in their state’s prescription drug monitoring program, work in a qualified practice setting, and complete at least 24 hours of training on treating and managing opiate dependent patients.

S. 2256: Co-Prescribing Saves Lives Act

The C0-Presribing Saves Lives Act aims to encourage physicians to prescribe naloxone, a drug that reverses an opioid overdose, when they prescribe opioids. Introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the bill would also require the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a grant program for states to develop and apply co-prescribing guidelines.

S. 480: National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting

This bill, from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), would amend a 2005 law so that state-administered controlled substance monitoring systems can get access to prescription history information when necessary for the investigative purposes of law enforcement and for state licensing authorities.

It would also amend the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize the controlled substances monitoring program through Fiscal Year 2020 and amend it so that grants can be used to maintain and operate existing state controlled substance monitoring programs, among other provisions.

Plan of Self Care Improvement Act: The current version of this bill, from Alexander and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), aims to improve plans for care for infants affected by substance abuse or withdrawal systems. The bill would call on states to develop multi-dimensional plans for caring for affected infants to ensure their well being.