WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce announced today that the full committee, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), will markup legislation to combat the opioid crisis in two sessions over two weeks.
The first markup is scheduled for Wednesday, May 9, 2018. More information, including a full list of bills to be considered, will be posted here on Monday, May 7, 2018. The second markup is scheduled for Thursday, May 17, 2018. More information will be posted at the link above, as it becomes available.
Energy and Commerce has spearheaded a two-track push to combat the opioid crisis, seeking to advance legislation to help stem the tide and investigate some of the root causes of the crisis. Specifically, the committee’s legislative efforts have examined bills to: improve patient safety and bolster enforcement tools, advance prevention and public health solutions, and address coverage and payment issues within Medicare and Medicaid.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee wants to advance its sweeping opioids plan within two weeks, splitting a legislative markup into two sessions to try and mollify Democrats who say majority Republicans are moving too fast.
Panel lawmakers will take up the first bundle of bills on Wednesday and handle the rest on May 17, part of Committee Chairman Greg Walden’s push to put opioids legislation on the House floor by Memorial Day.
Opioid-related overdoses killed 42,000 people in 2016, and early estimates suggest the problem worsened in 2017 and will surpass the AIDS epidemic’s toll at its height in the mid-1990s.
Congress struck a budget agreement that provides $6 billion to fight the opioids epidemic over this year and in 2019, prompting lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol to devise ways to spend the money wisely.
Bills working their way through the Energy and Commerce Committee would incentivize federal scientists to pursue non-addictive pain treatments, beef up the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to seize dangerous drugs at ports and help consumers dispose of excess pain pills.
Other measures would track opioids usage among Medicaid enrollees or create a dashboard of nationwide efforts to stem the opioids crisis.
“Combating the opioid crisis is this committee’s top priority. Following the advancement of 57 bills out of the Health Subcommittee — 48 of which were by voice vote — we are getting ready to bring bills to the full committee for consideration,” Mr. Walden, Oregon Republican, said. “We continue to hear from families tragically impacted by this crisis that timing is of the essence and so we are moving forward to finalize these policies and get them ready for a vote on the House floor.”
Though efforts to thwart the opioids crisis have been bipartisan, panel Democrats said the GOP majority appears to be rushing for a legislative win at the expense of methodical policymaking.
GOP leaders see the dual markup as an olive branch, hoping it will give members of both parties enough time to fine-tune proposals.
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