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Internists Commend Senate and House for Passing CARA Legislation

ACP Applauds Bipartisan Passage of Important Legislation to Alleviate Suffering of Patients with Addictions

(Washington, July 14, 2016) - The American College of Physicians (ACP) has commended the United States Senate and House of Representatives for their passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).  “The legislation is consistent with ACP’s policies to address the growing epidemic of opioid and substance use disorders in this country,” noted Nitin S. Damle, MD, MS, FACP, president of ACP.  “We urge the President to immediately sign this important bipartisan legislation that helps alleviate the suffering of the thousands of individuals who suffer from these addictions.”

The CARA legislation is the result of the work of legislators who were appointed to a conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of S.524.   On June 21, ACP sent a letter to the conferees urging the inclusion of specific provisions in the final version of S. 524, all of which were largely adopted in the final conference report.  The conferees released the conference report on July 6 and the House approved it on July 8 by a vote of 407 to 5.  The Senate approved the measure yesterday by a vote of 92 to 2.

Key policies supported by ACP were adopted in the conference report. They included:

  • Developing a federal interagency task force to review, modify, and update, as appropriate, best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication.
  • Expanding through grants awareness and education of physicians, patients, health care providers regarding the risks associated with the misuse of opioids.
  • Improving state-based Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to track dispensing of controlled substances.
  • Increasing availability of opioid overdose reversal drugs.
  • Providing alternatives to incarceration to individuals who misuse opioid drugs and other substances to manage their pain.
  • Expanding the use of “partial fills” to allow patients to receive a portion of an opioid prescription and increasing the availability of entities to dispose of unwanted medications.

“This legislation takes important steps to address this growing crisis and to provide patients with greater access to the care and treatment they need to deal with substance use disorders.  It is critical that Congress now move ahead to ensure funding for these important advancements,” Dr. Damle said.  “We applaud both chambers for their bipartisan efforts on this legislation, as it has been a long-standing priority of the College.”

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The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 148,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.