Bill to expand opioid treatment medication for seniors

Rob Portman

Rob Portman

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Bob Casey (D-PA) have introduced the Medicare Beneficiary Opioid Addiction Treatment Act (S. 2704), legislation that would break down existing barriers to treatment, by providing coverage for methadone under Medicare Part B and allowing seniors and people with disabilities to receive this important medication in their doctor’s office.

Opioid use disorder is a growing problem among older adults and people with disabilities, as nearly 12 million people with Medicare were prescribed opioids in 2015. In fact, the President’s FY2019 budget request proposes to test and expand Medicare treatment options, including reimbursing for methadone. Methadone is a physician-prescribed medication that is used as an evidence-based treatment for the most severe opioid use disorders. The bill is supported by the American Medical Association, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Medicare Rights Center, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and the Alliance for Retired Americans.

“Ensuring access to all forms of medication-assisted treatment is a vital to combating this opioid epidemic,” Portman says. “I’m proud to support the Medicare Beneficiary Opioid Addiction Treatment Act, which will fill in gaps in care for our seniors by providing Medicare coverage for methadone.”

“The opioid epidemic is not bound by age. People struggling with addiction are some of our oldest friends, relatives and neighbors,” says Casey, ranking member of the Special Committee on Aging. “We have a sacred responsibility to find solutions that help everyone who may be affected. I’m confident that this bipartisan bill will do a great deal to advance treatment efforts and I urge my colleagues to swiftly pass this legislation to help combat the opioid crisis.”

Ohio and Pennsylvania have been hard hit by the opioid crisis. In 2015, more than 45,000 Ohioans were receiving treatment for substance use disorders. Meanwhile overdoses remain the number one cause of preventable deaths in Ohio. According to a DEA report, in 2015, 59,584 Pennsylvanians sought treatment for substance abuse disorders. In 2016, the economic cost of the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania was more than $53.77 billion.

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