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Collins bills to battle opioid epidemic heads to House floor

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27), member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, applauded the advancement of 40 bills out of the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees to help combat the opioid crisis. Collins worked with his colleagues to address two specific problems related to the opioid epidemic, the over-prescription of opioids and fraud.

Collins worked with Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) and Congressman Peter Welch (VT-At Large) to author an amendment that passed the Energy and Commerce Committee that improves the quality of care Medicaid patients receive.

Their bipartisan work will require states to identify and address inappropriate prescribing and billing practices under Medicaid to decrease the likelihood that an excess of these drugs will make their way into communities.

“We’ve seen the devastating impacts of the opioid epidemic in every community across our nation,” Collins said. “These harmful drugs can fundamentally change who you are and rob you of your ambition, dreams, and dignity. It is our responsibility to do everything we can to prevent addiction from happening in the first place, which is why we need more reporting and accountability from the state level.”

“The opioid crisis is devastating families in San Diego and across the country. We need to do more to address the root causes of the epidemic,” Rep. Peters said “This amendment, led by Rep. Collins, Rep. Welch and me, will help identify patterns of overprescribing and inappropriate billing through Medicaid by using data already collected by states. Most important, it will direct states to remedy any practices that indicate abuse and help reduce the likelihood that opioids reach our communities.”

“Families and communities in Vermont are struggling with the scourge of opioid addiction,” Welch said. “To contain this epidemic, the federal government must have a multi-prong strategy that includes attacking the root cause of overprescribing. Our bipartisan legislation requires state Medicaid programs identify and educate outlier providers writing an excessive number of opioid prescriptions.”

Additionally, Collins co-authored a bipartisan piece of legislation that stops payments from Medicare prescription drug programs if a pharmacy is being investigated for fraud by the Inspector General. This bill, The SENIOR Communities Protection Act, was reported favorably from the Ways and Means Committee.

Collins added: “If there is any suspicion of a person fraudulently prescribing opioids, we must quickly take action and get to the bottom of the situation before providing any compensation. There are so many factors that have contributed to the opioid epidemic, and I’m proud of the meticulous work that we have done to address all of these issues in order to prevent over-prescription and fraud.”

For more information on yesterday’s Energy and Commerce Committee hearing and to read a copy of the amendment by Reps. Collins, Peters and Welch, click here. For more information on H.R. 5676, The SENIOR Communities Protection Act, click here.

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