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GOP chairman: Panel reviewing additional legislation to fight opioid crisis

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GOP chairman: Panel reviewing additional legislation to fight opioid crisis

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) detailed additional pieces of opioid legislation the panel will review as it aims to get the bills passed by Memorial Day weekend.

At a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event Thursday on combating the opioid epidemic, Walden specifically mentioned three bills the committee will review in its next legislative hearings slated for this month.

These include a measure to add information about a patient’s opioid addiction into certain medical records; establish a federal coordinator to conduct an electronic database on opioid data, funding resources, analysis of the effectiveness of federal programs and ; and require the Government Accountability Office to evaluate and study ways to safely dispose of opioids.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s latest push is one of several congressional efforts, which have ramped up in recent weeks, to tackle the opioid epidemic. The panel held a four-hour hearing Wednesday on eight law enforcement and patient safety-related bills, and plans to hold two hearings on prevention and insurance coverage, respectively.

“This is the top priority for the Energy and Commerce Committee because we’re losing people in this country than traffic accidents,” Walden said.

On the other side of the Capitol, a bipartisan group of senators released this week a follow-up version to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act passed in 2016, dubbed “CARA 2.0.”  The bill includes policy changes and also authorizes $1 billion, in light of a two-year budget agreement passed last month providing $6 billion to combat the opioid and mental health crises.

Asked if additional money could come, Walden told reporters after his keynote address that “we haven’t identified that yet because again this is a record amount of money being put to one addiction problem, and so we may need .

“But a lot of what we’re hearing is not necessarily money, it’s change in policy.”

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