Brief # 34 Health Policy
Senators Marco Rubio, Elizabeth Warren, Susan Collins, and Maggie Hassan have released a bipartisan bill, Hospice Safe Drug Disposal Act, to encourage the disposal of unused opioids by home hospice care providers. This would ultimately aim to reduce the amount of opioids in circulation. Typically, hospice providers aren’t allowed to assist with the disposal of opioids after their use in care of patients, and frequently these opioid medications are given to families and left unused and vulnerable to abuse. This is relevant because about 70% of people who have an opioid addiction report that they first got them from a relative or someone who was prescribed them. The senators have worked together to hopefully curb the opioid crisis by tackling one of the root sources of the addiction problem.
This strategy is an interesting parallel to the HIV/AIDS response from the federal government. Similar to the HIV syringe services program under the Federal Response, the Hospice Safe Drug Disposal Act, aims to stop the spread of opioids through a legislative change in medical policy. Warren has said before that she supports increasing the level of funding for the opioid crisis to match or even exceed what HIV/AIDS crisis has received through PEPFAR. While the omnibus spending package contains $4.6 billion to fight the opioid crisis, experts say that it isn’t enough and Warren repeated this claim after mentioning the she has modeled some of her other legislative approaches after HIV/AIDS legislation. This could be an indicator of more such strategies because the recently appointed Director of the Center for Disease Control, Dr. Robert Redfeld Jr., is a prominent AIDS researcher. He has been criticized because of his positions on abstinence only AIDS prevention, but seems to be quickly changing his approach as head of the CDC. He has also discussed his ideas for prevention in the opioid crisis as part of his priorities for heading into office.
NLC Opioid Action Report -Learn more about the National League of Counties and Cities report on community engagement and action for leaders on combating the opioid crisis.
As always, contact your state’s elected officials and voice your concerns.
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