Blackburn, Colleagues Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Fatal Overdoses, Support Opioid Victims

August 9, 2023

NASHVILLE, TENN. – U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), and Tom Carper (D-Del.) reintroduced the Improving Medicaid Programs’ Response to Overdose Victims and Enhancing (IMPROVE) Addiction Care Act to provide greater assistance to individuals who have struggled with substance use disorder. U.S. Representatives David Trone (D-Md.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) reintroduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would require state Medicaid programs to use jointly-funded Drug Utilization Review programs to help connect patients to treatment and boost safeguards for those on Medicaid who have experienced a non-fatal, opioid-related overdose. The bill would also close a dangerous information gap that currently keeps prescribers from being informed about patients who overdose.

“With opioid overdose deaths skyrocketing across the country, particularly among Medicaid beneficiaries, it is essential that we take action to ensure patients are not recklessly prescribed these drugs,” said Senator Blackburn. “We need to ensure that Medicaid programs across the country have the tools to treat those who have experienced non-fatal opioid-related overdoses properly. The IMPROVE Addiction Care Act would help providers understand their patient’s history with opioids and make certain they receive safe treatment.” 

“Every West Virginian has experienced the impacts of the drug epidemic, and it’s clear we must do more to support local prevention, treatment and recovery efforts,” said Senator Manchin. “I’m proud to reintroduce the IMPROVE Addiction Care Act, which will strengthen Drug Utilization Review programs to ensure appropriate drug prescribing while also preventing misuse and abuse. Americans who have experienced an overdose need our help getting back on their feet through treatment programs, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense legislation,” 

“We all know someone affected by the opioid epidemic, whether it’s a friend, family member, or neighbor,” said Senator Mullin. “To combat the overprescription of opioids, Congress must equip providers with Medicare patients' overdose history to fully inform patient health, safety, and well-being. With access to patients’ previous nonfatal overdoses — one of the most significant predictors of a future overdose — prescribers can alter their prescriptions of controlled substances accordingly. This increased communication is key to improve health outcomes and tackle the prescription opioid crisis head-on.”

“The opioid epidemic has plagued our country for too long, and patients need support – especially those in need of addiction management,” said Senator Carper. “I’m proud to support this bipartisan legislation that will require providers to communicate with each other while increasing access to care and treatment for Medicaid recipients.”

The IMPROVE Addiction Care Act would:

  • Alert: Ensure that doctors are aware if their Medicaid-enrolled patient has suffered a previous non-fatal overdose and alert the prescriber when one of their patients suffers a fatal overdose.
  • Treat: Connect recent opioid overdose survivors who receive Medicaid benefits with treatment opportunities.
  • Educate: Perform ongoing reviews and offer provider education.

To learn more about the IMPROVE Addiction Care Act , please click here.

To read the full text of the IMPROVE Addiction Care Act, please click here.