ACT.md Blog

New legislation will make 2019 a big year for action against the opioid crisis, according to the Betty Ford Foundation

By Akshita Singh | October 11, 2018 at 2:53 PM

The nation’s leading nonprofit addiction treatment provider, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, is applauding the new "SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act” which took shape in Congress in late September.  Mark Mishek, President and CEO of Hazelden Betty Ford, called the proposed law "a tremendous step to help confront the opioid crisis that has caused so much suffering to individuals, families and society in recent years."

Betty Ford Foundation

The full name of the proposed law is the "Substance Use–Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act" or "SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.”  It is a bill comprised of numerous programs and reforms to address the nation's opioid crisis.  While it still needs to be approved by both the House and Senate, and signed by the President, the legislation proposes: 

  • A national ban on "patient brokering"— the buying and selling of patient leads in the addiction services and substance use disorder treatment industry.
  • Partial repeal of the so-called "IMD exclusion" regulation that prohibits Medicaid payments for residential addiction treatment at facilities with more than 16 beds.  Under the new bill, patients covered by Medicaid will be able to access care at such facilities for up to 30 days annually.
  • School loan forgiveness for addiction treatment professionals who choose to work in underserved areas.
  • A Congressionally-mandated analysis of how well states are implementing and enforcing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, the law designed to ensure insurance benefits for mental health and addiction treatments are comparable to those for medical and surgical procedures.
  • A crackdown on mailed shipments of fentanyl, the powerful opioid that has fueled the latest dramatic spike in overdose deaths.

Congress is also on track to authorize $4 billion in new, additional spending in order to support the programs and reforms outlined in the bill.  According to Mishek, continual funding for states will be crucial because state governments are taking the lead in fostering innovation and approving systemic changes  which address opioids and the root causes of addiction.  

In a statement, Mishek said: 

"While there's much more work to be done at every level of government and society, it's nice to see a rare moment of unity on a life-and-death issue that is affecting every corner of America.  We applaud legislators for recognizing the need to address this public health problem in a bipartisan and comprehensive manner."

How ACT.md Can Help

ACT.md’s cloud-based community health collaboration hub helps innovators develop interventions and redesign care to address the opioid crisis by:

  • Aligning local health systems with community-based organizations, especially SUD and behavioral health partners.
  • Integrating behavioral health and primary care plans within health systems and across the local continuum of care.
  • Developing community-wide networks to address social determinants of health and root causes of high-risk behavior.

About The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families, and communities affected by drug and alcohol addiction. It is the largest nonprofit treatment provider in the nation and has been providing its services to those who need it since 1949.

Learn more at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation website.

Topics: Social Determinants of Health, Health Policy, Behavioral Health, Opioids