Developed to combat the nation’s opioid crisis, a comprehensive opioid addiction bill has finally made its way to the president’s desk. On October 25, 2018, President Trump signed the opioid package into law. The new law allots more than $8 billion to address addiction, drug trafficking, and recovery issues.
The package included several ONS-supported provisions, including ones that impact access to care by nurses and patients with cancer. In Section 3201 of the resolution (H.R. 6), nurse practitioners (NPs) are granted permanent authority to prescribe medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to patients with opioid disorders. By strengthening the NP scope of practice authority in this area, more patients with opioid disorders will receive access to quality care and treatment by nurses.
Moreover, the package includes an ONS-supported provision to exclude providers who prescribe opioids to patients with cancer or those in hospice to avoid flagging them as “outlier” prescribers subject to opioid prescribing restrictions.
Other ONS-supported provisions in the package include increasing access to nonaddictive pain medications as alternatives to opioids by giving the National Institutes of Health new authority to research nonaddictive drugs, as well as increased funding for state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) and encourages nurses and other health providers to incorporate PDMP data about opioid usage into their clinical reports to ensure care coordination.
A final component provides greater access to safe opioid disposal methods to prevent diversion and abuse.