Federal Bill Aims To Tax Opioid Pain Medication, Give Revenue To State Treatment Initiatives
Senator Joe Manchin III (D-WV) has introduced a bill, which if passed, would tax the sales of opioid pain medication to support addiction treatment programs. The bill is entitled “The Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment Act.”
This is not the first time Congress has seen the bill, and this year’s version, SB 523, has the same aims as past iterations. The bill seeks to impose a one cent tax on every milligram of any opioid by a manufacturer, producer, or importer.
The resulting revenue would be placed in a fund that would provide money to the efforts of states to treat substance addiction. Moreover, states could use the grants to establish new treatment centers, sober living facilities, and housing for children whose parents are in treatment.
However, the bill also provides for rebates that would be accessible to patients who are prescribed opioids to treat pain related to cancer or palliative care.
It would also require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to report after two years on how the changes have affected the cost of opioids, patient access to opioids, the effectiveness of the rebate program for cancer and hospice patients, and how the additional funds have affected the accessibility of addiction treatment.
Regarding bill submission, Manchin stated the following in a press release:
“… major barrier that those suffering from opioid addiction face is insufficient access to substance abuse treatment. These are people who…have been turned away because there simply weren’t enough facilities, beds, or mental health providers in their community.”
The bill has several Democratic co-sponsors and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. Past versions of the bill were referred to the same committee but didn’t make it back to the Senate floor before the end of the session.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology