Senate Passes Bennet-Backed Measures to Address Opioid Abuse

Measures Included in Bipartisan Bill to Focus Resources on Evidence-Based Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Programs

Washington, D.C. - Today, the Senate passed the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA) with two provisions backed by Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet to help tackle the opioid epidemic. In addition to these measures, CARA also includes other provisions supported by Senator Bennet to address prevention and treatment of opioid addiction and abuse. These bills now await the President's signature to become law.

"Our country is in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis," Bennet said. "This bill will help drive resources toward evidence-based tools to help individuals suffering from addiction and to support efforts by health care providers to offer effective treatment while preventing further abuse."

Background on Bennet's bills:

  • Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act: This bill, also sponsored by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Susan Collins (R-ME), would require states to ensure that a "plan of safe care" is developed for drug-dependent infants before they leave the hospital. These plans have been underutilized for infants suffering withdrawal symptoms due to opioid or alcohol abuse during pregnancy. The bill clarifies existing law to ensure that a "Plan of Safe Care" is developed for these infants and that the Department of Health and Human Services monitors progress and disseminates best practices to states.
  • Reducing Unused Medications Act: Introduced with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), this amendment would allow prescriptions for opioid medications to be partially filled by pharmacists at the request of patients or doctors, reducing the number of unused painkillers. Reducing the amount of unused prescription painkillers in circulation is a critical part of addressing the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic. Current Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations permit drugs in Schedules III, IV, and V to be partially filled, but the regulations are narrower and less clear for Schedule II drugs, including prescription opioids. By including this important provision in CARA, we will resolve any ambiguity and clear the way for states considering partial fill policies to act.