It may have receded from the headlines, but opioid addiction remains a potent public health threat both in Pennsylvania and nationwide. A new bill making the rounds on Capitol Hill seeks to help people living with the addiction afford their medication and access inpatient treatment.
New legislation, known as the “MORE Savings Act,” sponsored by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., with a companion House bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District, would eliminate costs for opioid treatment and recovery support services for people with private insurance plans and for people enrolled under a new Medicare pilot program.
The bill also would increase federal funding for Medicaid treatment programs, whose costs are split between the states and the federal government.
“The opioid epidemic is devastating communities and tearing families apart in Pennsylvania and across the nation,” Casey, of Scranton, said in a statement.
The cost of treatment “should never be a barrier to recovery,” Casey continued. “By eliminating the cost of treatment and medication, [the bill] would begin to get more Americans with opioid use disorder on the road to recovery.”
In Pennsylvania, 5,168 state residents died from overdoses in 2021, while an average of 14 Pennsylvanians a day die from overdoses, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.
Depending on the scope and type of services, the cost of treating opioid use disorder can range from $5,980 to $14,112 a year, according to a summary by the National Institutes of Health, citing U.S. Dept. of Defense data.
“To put these costs into context, it is useful to compare them with the costs of other conditions. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, annual expenditures for individuals who received health care are $3,560.00 for those with diabetes mellitus and $5,624.00 for kidney disease,” NIH noted in it analysis.
In a statement, Dean, who has written and spoken publicly about her family’s experience with addiction, said that “through a cost-sharing model, people struggling with addiction will be able to access support with a lower cost burden — and the MORE Savings Act will help do that.”
The bill would require “would require insurers who are offering individual or group health insurance to cover the prescription drugs and support services used to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) and to reverse overdoses,” the lawmakers said.
The legislation also would require insurers to “cover recovery support services in conjunction with treatment at no cost. ”
The bill further would “establish a 5-year pilot program in 15 states to eliminate costs for people using Medicare OUD treatment, reverse overdoses, and provide recovery support. It would also increase federal investment in Medicaid programs providing those treatment services,” the lawmakers said in their statement.
Other Capitol Hill lawmakers cosponsoring the bill include U.S. Sens. John Fetterman, D-Pa., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
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