On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, President Trump signed H.R. 6, SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, sweeping legislation that is a cumulation of House and Senate opioid efforts over the last year. The package encompasses more than 170 distinct provisions focused on improving the federal response to the opioid epidemic via changes to Medicaid and Medicare, expansion of treatment resources for health care providers and enhancement of recovery supports for patients.
H.R. 6 authorizes over $850 million in new grants to create projects aimed at increasing access to substance use disorder treatment, first responder training, creating recovery centers and education programs. It also requires HHS to conduct studies, issue reports and collect data to better understand the opioid epidemic, determine possible solutions and facilitate data sharing.
The final legislation includes several provisions significant to community pharmacies. It requires electronic prescribing for Schedule II through V controlled substances prescriptions covered under Medicare Part D, starting in 2021. Additionally, the law requires that training materials are developed and distributed to pharmacists clarifying when they are legally authorized to decline filling controlled substance prescriptions. The legislation also provides support for states and localities to improve their Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs to better enable healthcare providers to help prevent fraud, waste and abuse.
Leaders from pharmacy associations including NCPA
were invited to the White House to attend the signing ceremony of this momentous legislation.