WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, during National Recovery Month, U.S. Representatives Nikki Budzinski (IL-13), Brittany Pettersen (CO-07) and Kim Schrier (WA-08) introduced legislation to prevent overdose deaths and improve access to lifesaving naloxone. The Hospitals As Naloxone Distribution Sites (HANDS) Act would require Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE to cover the cost of naloxone when it’s provided to patients who are at risk of an overdose, before they are discharged, at zero cost to the patient.
“As communities across our country continue to face an overdose crisis, it’s critical that our hospitals and emergency rooms are empowered and have the resources necessary to dispense lifesaving mediation proactively to folks who are at risk,” said Congresswoman Budzinski. “I’m proud to join Congresswoman Brittany Pettersen to introduce legislation that would improve access to naloxone by ensuring that Medicaid, Medicare and Tricare can cover the cost of this life saving medicine when it’s distributed preventatively to folks struggling with addiction.”
“Like far too many Americans, my family was impacted by the opioid epidemic and my mom is only alive today because of overdose-reversal medication like naloxone,” said Congresswoman Pettersen. “I was proud to return to Swedish Medical Center – the place that saved my mom’s life before she finally got the treatment she needed – to announce the HANDS Act, alongside Dr. Stader. We are working to break down the barriers between life-saving medication and those who need it the most.”
“The opioid epidemic, and the impact of fentanyl on our communities, is a historic public health crisis that has impacted every part of our nation. As a mother, a pediatrician, and a congresswoman I am concerned and know this issue needs to be addressed from every angle, and that includes at the federal level,” said Congresswoman Schrier. “This bill will also allow for patients to acquire naloxone from Emergency Departments nationwide, closing the barriers of cost and access for this life-saving medication for patient populations that need it most.”
Congresswoman Budzinski is a member of the bipartisan Fentanyl Prevention Caucus, the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force and the bipartisan Addiction Treatment and Recovery Caucus, where she’s working across the aisle on solutions to the ongoing addiction and overdose crisis. Through that work, she’s cosponsored the STOP Fentanyl Overdoses Act, the Law Enforcement Officers Preventing Overdose Deaths Act and the Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act to help save lives and support folks in their recovery. Additional information on the legislation Budzinski has supported can be found below:
- The STOP Fentanyl Overdoses Act is bipartisan legislation to address the fentanyl crisis, stop the flow of illicit drugs entering the U.S., and take a public health approach to help save lives. The bill would empower the nation’s public health response against the opioid epidemic by expanding surveillance and research on substances like fentanyl and prioritizing treatment, harm reduction and other resources to help with the overdose crisis.
- The Law Enforcement Officers Preventing Overdose Deaths Act is bipartisan legislation that would provide rural law enforcement officers with the lifesaving naloxone they need to respond to this epidemic.
- The Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act is a bipartisan bill to modernize methadone rules by empowering board-certified physicians to prescribe methadone and allowing pharmacists to dispense it to improve patients’ ability to access treatment for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).