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Easy Medication Access and Treatment for Opioid Addiction Act

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 17, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 2281) to direct the Attorney General to amend certain regulations so that practitioners may administer not more than 3 days' medication to a person at one time when administering narcotic drugs for the purpose of relieving acute withdrawal symptoms, as amended.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.

The text of the bill is as follows: H.R. 2281

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ``Easy Medication Access and Treatment for Opioid Addiction Act'' or the ``Easy MAT for Opioid Addiction Act''. SEC. 2. DISPENSATION OF NARCOTIC DRUGS FOR THE PURPOSE OF RELIEVING ACUTE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS FROM OPIOID USE DISORDER.

Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Attorney General shall revise section 1306.07(b) of title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, so that practitioners, in accordance with applicable State, Federal, or local laws relating to controlled substances, are allowed to dispense not more than a three-day supply of narcotic drugs to one person or for one person's use at one time for the purpose of initiating maintenance treatment or detoxification treatment (or both). SEC. 3. DETERMINATION OF BUDGETARY EFFECTS.

The budgetary effects of this Act, for the purpose of complying with the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, shall be determined by reference to the latest statement titled ``Budgetary Effects of PAYGO Legislation'' for this Act, submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, provided that such statement has been submitted prior to the vote on passage.

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Mr. PALLONE. 2281.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 2281, the Easy Medication Access and Treatment for Opioid Addiction Act, or the Easy MAT for Opioid Addiction Act.

As we have highlighted on the floor today, the opioid epidemic is a public health emergency that we must continue to address. Millions of Americans have been impacted by the drug crisis. A 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that 1.6 million Americans have an opioid use disorder. This is a chronic, treatable disease that patients can and do recover from.

While the number of Americans with opioid use disorder was declining prior to the coronavirus pandemic, it is still alarming that less than one out of five of these Americans actually receive treatment.

The Easy MAT for Opioid Addiction Act is a bill that makes it easier for patients to access medication-assisted treatment in the emergency room. For many patients, whether it be those experiencing an overdose or those seeking substance use disorder treatment, the emergency room can be the first or only point of care.

Buprenorphine is one of three FDA-approved medications for treating opioid use disorder. In emergency situations, it may be dispensed from an emergency room by certain practitioners for up to 3 days. This policy is otherwise known as the 3-day rule.

This rule is intended to help healthcare providers address acute withdrawal symptoms while a patient awaits arrangements for longer term medication-assisted treatment. But, unfortunately, there are several burdensome restrictions tied to this authority. For example, there is a limitation that not more than 1 day's medication be given to a patient at one time, forcing the repeated return to the emergency room.

Mr. Speaker, in testimony before the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Dr. Shawn Ryan, an emergency physician and addiction medicine specialist, cited the burden for a patient having to return to the emergency room after an initial visit, particularly for patients with substance use disorder. He stated that transportation can be an issue for these patients but also that repeat visits can be a burden for the emergency departments.

This bill would direct the Drug Enforcement Administration to update regulations to allow a practitioner to dispense up to 3 days' supply of buprenorphine. This will give patients and families a better opportunity to get connected to adequate treatment on the road to recovery.

Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague, Representative Ruiz, a member of our committee, and his staff for leading this bill. I also thank Ranking Member Walden and his staff for working with us to move this bill forward.

House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Washington, DC, November 16, 2020. Hon. Jerrold Nadler, Chair, Committee on Judiciary, Washington, DC.

Dear Chairman Nadler: Thank you for consulting with the Committee on Energy and Commerce and agreeing to be discharged from further consideration of H.R. 2281, the Easy MAT for Opioid Addiction Act, so that the bill may proceed expeditiously to the House floor.

I agree that your forgoing further action on this measure does not in any way diminish or alter the jurisdiction of your committee or prejudice its jurisdictional prerogatives on this measure or similar legislation in the future. I would support your effort to seek appointment of an appropriate number of conferees from your committee to any House-Senate conference on this legislation.

I will seek to place our letters on H.R. 2281 into the Congressional Record during floor consideration of the bill. I appreciate your cooperation regarding this legislation and look forward to continuing to work together as this measure moves through the legislative process. Sincerely, Frank Pallone, Jr., Chairman. ____ House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Washington, DC, November 16, 2020. Hon. Frank Pallone, Jr., Chairman, Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Dear Chairman Pallone: This is to advise you that the Committee on the Judiciary has now had an opportunity to review the provisions in H.R. 2281, the ``Easy Medication Access and Treatment for Opioid Addiction Act,'' that fall within our Rule X jurisdiction. I appreciate your consulting with us on those provisions. The Judiciary Committee has no objection to your including them in the bill for consideration on the House floor, and to expedite that consideration is willing to forgo action on H.R. 2281, with the understanding that we do not thereby waive any future jurisdictional claim over those provisions or their subject matters.

In the event a House-Senate conference on this or similar legislation is convened, the Judiciary Committee reserves the right to request an appropriate number of conferees to address any concerns with these or similar provisions that may arise in conference.

Please place this letter into the Congressional Record during consideration of the measure on the House floor. Thank you for the cooperative spirit in which you have worked regarding this matter and others between our committees. Sincerely, Jerrold Nadler, Chairman.

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I have no speakers at this time, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I have no additional speakers. I urge my colleagues to support the bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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