WASHINGTON, DC – Republican Energy and Commerce Committee leaders are pressing the Administration for an update on the implementation of a key provision of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), the historic, committee-led bill signed into law in October 2018 to combat the nationwide opioid crisis.
In a letter to the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Admiral Brett P. Giroir, M.D., the leaders stress the need for a public information dashboard linking to HHS programs and publicly available data related to opioid and other substance use disorders (SUD) that is required under law by the SUPPORT Act. This provision, authorized in section 7021 of the SUPPORT Act, includes important language from the Indexing Narcotics, Fentanyl, and Opioids (INFO) Act, which required HHS to establish and update a dashboard to inform the public on federal resources and programs addressing substance use disorder.
This information is absolutely critical for those on the front lines of the opioid crisis to access tools to stem the tide of addiction and save lives on the ground.
The letter was signed by Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR), Health Subcommittee Republican Leader Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH), and Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY).
“This dashboard was intended to be an easily accessible electronic hub for the public, providing links to information on programs within HHS related to the reduction of opioid and other substance use disorders, along with access to the publicly available data from HHS agencies and other relevant entities such as medical experts, nonprofit organizations, law enforcement, and research institutions,” the leaders wrote in the letter. “The dashboard also was supposed to provide data on substance use disorder prevention and treatment strategies in different regions of and populations in the United States, identify information on alternatives to controlled substances for pain management, and identify guidelines and best practices for health care providers regarding treatment of substance use disorders.”
While HHS announced in May that the agency is using new authority from the SUPPORT Act to establish an interdepartmental committee to identify areas for improved coordination related to SUD research, services, supports and prevention activities across all relevant federal agencies, the dashboard required under the law has yet to be established.
In their letter, the leaders call for a briefing from HHS on the implementation of the information dashboard by September 13, 2019.
“The opioid crisis is devastating our country, undermining our social structures, and eroding our economic productivity,” the leaders continued. “The information dashboard authorized in section 7021 of the SUPPORT Act is a much-needed tool for the patients and families we represent, and it will help further turn the tide in our fight against this crisis.”
To read the full letter, click here.