How the ‘SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act’ Addresses Opioid Abuse in Schools and Communities

Information provided by Karen McCarthy, Senior Legislative Assistant to Senator Lisa Murkowski

Many of you have been concerned about the horrible impact of opioid abuse on your students and communities. The President has signed into law the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which passed the Senate on October 3 in a 98-1 vote. As a member of the Senate HELP Committee, Senator Murkowski secured provisions in the final package. These are:

  • Cutting-Edge Research: Includes a bill Senator Murkowski cosponsored, the Advancing Cutting-Edge Research Act, to allow the National Institutes of Health to use its “other transactions authority” for high impact cutting-edge research projects.
  • Jessie’s Law: Requires HHS to develop best practices for prominently displaying substance use treatment information in electronic health records, when requested by the patient. Senator Murkowski cosponsored this legislation.
  • NHSC Professionals in Schools: Allows National Health Service Corps participants to provide behavioral and mental health services at community-based settings located in a shortage area. These services can be applied towards completion of their service requirements. Senator Murkowski was the Republican lead of this standalone legislation, the Improving Access to Mental Health Services, with Senator Smith.
  • National Milestones to Measure Progress in Ending the Opioid Epidemic Act: Requires the development or identification of existing national indicators to measure success in curtailing the opioid crisis and significantly reversing the incidence and prevalence of opioid misuse and abuse and opioid-related mortality. Senator Murkowski introduced this standalone legislation with Senators Markey and Hassan.
  • Opioid Treatment Workforce Shortage: Requires loan repayment to behavioral health providers practicing in substance use disorder treatment facilities in mental health professional shortage areas. Senator Murkowski was the lead Republican of this standalone legislation with Senators Donnelly and Hassan, the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act, to ensure we have enough workers to address those who are struggling with substance abuse.

This sectional analysis of the bill was prepared by my health care issues colleague, Anna Dietderich, so you can see the details of provisions that will be particularly beneficial for your stakeholders and your work. You can also read the full text of the final bill at here.

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