Appropriations Bill Contains Funding for Opioids

The appropriations bill passed by Congress on March 23 included several bright spots for physicians including nearly $4 billion in funding to address the opioid epidemic through prevention, treatment and law enforcement. 

Here are a few examples of funding for opioids:
•    $500 million to the National Institute of Health for research on opioid addiction, development of opioid alternatives, pain management and addiction treatment
•    $20 million to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for telemedicine and distance learning services to help address the epidemic in rural areas 
•    An increase of $105 million for the National Health Service Corps to expand and improve access to opioid and substance use disorder treatment in rural and underserved areas
•    $10 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a nationwide opioid awareness and education campaign.

In addition, the opioid appropriations, the bill includes the Fix NICS Act that is aimed at improving records and information-sharing in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System for gun purchases. The bill also calls for improving school safety and includes language allowing the CDC to study the causes of gun violence but does not include specific funding for it. 

The bill sets aside a $414 million increase for Alzheimer's research and more than $2.3 billion in new funding for mental health programs and other training. 

To address the physician workforce, the bill calls for providing $15 million for the Rural Residency Program to increase rural residency slots and $315 million for the Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education.

For more details in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 (HR 1625) click here for an AMA report.