May 23, 2018

Manchin and Capito Introduce Bill to Support Treatment for Babies Exposed to Opioids

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)—along with Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Angus King (I-ME), Dean Heller (D-NV), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)—today introduced bipartisan legislation to be considered by the Senate Finance Committee that would help newborns suffering from withdrawal recover in the best care setting and provide support for their families.

The Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act would allow Medicaid to cover health care services provided to infants in residential pediatric recovery facilities in addition to hospitals. Similar to the earlier version of the CRIB Act the senators introduced at this time last year, the latest version of this legislation would clarify that babies receiving services in residential pediatric recovery centers can continue to receive services after one year of age and provide for activities to encourage caregiver-infant bonding. 

“In West Virginia we are exceptionally proud of the work Lily’s Place is doing to provide specialized care to infants born addicted to opioids. By allowing Medicaid to cover these kinds of healthcare services, the CRIB Act will expand access for West Virginia children and families ensuring every child has the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong,” Senator Manchin said.

“It’s heartbreaking to see the pain and suffering of infants who have been exposed to drugs before they’re even born. Unfortunately, the number of infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome continues to grow in West Virginia,” Senator Capito said. “The CRIB Act will help ensure these babies have access to the specialized care and range of treatment options they need to overcome the awful effects of this problem and put them on the path to recovery.”

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a withdrawal condition often caused by use of opioids and other addictive substances in pregnant women. Babies with NAS are usually treated in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where treatment costs can be more than five times the cost of treating other newborns. With the bright lights and loud noises, the NICU is not always the best place for newborns suffering from withdrawal. Residential pediatric recovery facilities, an alternative setting to a NICU, offer specialized care and an environment conducive to treating newborns with NAS, as well as counseling for mothers and families that emphasizes caregiver-infant bonding. The CRIB Act would allow Medicaid to reimburse for covered Medicaid services in residential pediatric recovery facilities in addition to hospitals.

Studies show that cases of NAS have tripled over the past decade. According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), West Virginia’s incidence rate of babies born exposed to opioids was 50.6 cases per 1,000 live births (5.06 percent).

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