May 21, 2021

Manchin, Romney Introduce Bipartisan LifeBOAT Act To Establish Stewardship Fee To Support Substance Use Treatment

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the bipartisan Life Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment (LifeBOAT) Act, which would establish a stewardship fee to provide and expand access to substance use treatment. In 2020, over 90,000 Americans died from drug related overdoses – the highest year of overdose deaths ever recorded – with over half of those likely involving an opioid or synthetic opioid.
“America is experiencing an epidemic within a pandemic, and drug overdose deaths have been at an all-time high. West Virginia has led the nation in drug overdose deaths for over ten years, more than doubling the national rates of overdose deaths since 2007. It is past time that funding meets the need for resources, treatment facilities and healthcare providers that help Americans struggling with substance use disorder,” said Senator Manchin. “This bipartisan legislation would create a 1 cent stewardship fee for every milligram of opioids in a prescription pain pill which would be used to support and expand substance use treatment options for our fellow Americans in need. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this vital bipartisan legislation to help address the drug epidemic facing our nation.”
“We must do more to provide access to treatment for those who want to escape opioid abuse and addiction,” Senator Romney said. “I’m proud to join Senator Manchin’s effort which will help fund treatment facilities around the country and offer support for those who seek treatment for addiction. Importantly, this legislation will bolster the significant work Utah has done to combat the opioid epidemic by helping to fund our state’s treatment and recovery support services.”
“As a former prosecutor, I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact substance use disorders can have on families and communities,” said Senator Klobuchar. “When a lack of resources means people are turned away when they seek treatment for addiction, we must take action. Our commonsense legislation would help people across Minnesota and the country by establishing a permanent funding stream to expand access to life-saving treatment.”
“I’ve met with local health officials, law enforcement and those who have lost loved ones throughout Wisconsin, and it’s clear Washington must do more to be a strong partner in supporting local prevention, treatment and recovery efforts,” said Senator Baldwin. “We need to provide resources to fight the opioid epidemic and I am proud to reintroduce this bill with Senator Manchin to help provide states with the tools they need to save lives.”
“Last year, more than 500 Maine people died from overdoses – a heartbreaking new record for our state,” said Senator King. “We are losing too many loved ones to the opioid epidemic, leaving families and communities suffering in their absence. It’s time for a different approach. We know that treatment can help our friends and neighbors who are struggling with substance use disorders enter recovery and lead – but there simply aren’t enough resources to provide the treatment needed to address this threat.  This legislation can change that, using the source of the problem to help fund a solution. This bill will make critical investments in our nation’s treatment facilities, allowing us to open up more beds, hire more treatment professionals, and take a long-overdue step to save lives.”
“COVID-19 intensified the substance use disorder epidemic in New Hampshire and throughout the country. Families, providers and communities bore witness to how one public health crisis exacerbated another. As we work to put COVID behind us, enhancing our response to the substance use disorder epidemic must be a key part of our recovery effort,” said Senator Shaheen. “That’s why I’m glad to partner with Senator Manchin and this group of lawmakers to reintroduce our legislation that would boost resources for law enforcement, local leaders and other frontline workers who are fighting to turn the tide of the substance use disorder crisis. Granite Staters and Americans across the country who are struggling need help now more than ever, which is why it is essential that Congress take action. This legislation is a meaningful step in the right direction and I urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to join us in this effort.”
“Substance misuse is one of the most pressing public health challenges facing New Hampshire, and we must continue to invest in our communities, which are on the frontlines of this fight,” said Senator Hassan. “The bipartisan LifeBOAT Act will help support the work that we are doing in New Hampshire by providing additional funding to ensure that more people can get the help they need, when they need it.”
“This bill will help get life-saving resources to those struggling with addition. The opioid epidemic has caused untold pain and suffering in Connecticut and across the country. We must give communities, families, and individuals the tools they need to deliver and access prevention and treatment services. This funding is critical to winning our country’s fight against this epidemic,” said Senator Blumenthal.
“Communities in Minnesota and across the country have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, yet too many of these communities can’t access the health services necessary to address this crisis,” said Senator Smith, a member of the Senate Health Committee. “We need to make sure individuals and families are able to get the help they need to when opioids and other substances have upended their lives. Let’s get this bipartisan bill across the finish line and save lives.”
“We won’t stop the opioid overdose epidemic without a strong, strategic public health response.  Pragmatic approaches like this will increase funding while holding opioid manufacturers accountable,” said Senator Whitehouse. “I’m glad to support this bipartisan bill to help Americans find treatment and continue the long, noble road of recovery.”
This bill would establish a stewardship fee to fund efforts to provide and expand access to substance use treatment through the existing Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant. To pay for this treatment, this bill would establish a 1 cent stewardship fee on each milligram of active opioid ingredient in a prescription pain pill. The bill includes a rebate for cancer related pain and hospice patients and an exemption for opioids used as part of medically assisted treatment.

The funding would be used to improve access to substance use disorder treatment, including but not limited to:
·       Establishing new treatment facilities, residential and outpatient.
·       Recruiting, training, and/or increasing reimbursement for mental health providers providing substance use disorder treatment, particularly in medically underserved or rural communities.
·       Expanding access to long-term, residential treatment programs.
·       Establishing and/or operating support programs that offer employment services, housing, and other support services to help those recovering transition back into society.
·       Establishing and/or operating facilities to provide care for babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome.
·       Establishing and/or operating substance use treatment programs in conjunction with Adult and Family Treatment Drug Courts.
Senator Manchin’s recent efforts to address the drug epidemic:
  • On May 19th, Senator Manchin reintroduced the Clean Start Act, which would allow persons with a felony or misdemeanor conviction for a past non-violent crime committed as a result of substance use disorder to have their records sealed after undergoing comprehensive treatment and demonstrating a commitment to their recovery.
  • On May 15th, Senators Manchin and Mike Braun reintroduced the bipartisan FDA Review of Efficacy of EERW Double-Blinds (FREED) of Opioids Act which would ensure that scientific experts review the controversial EERW methodology used to approve new opioids and will ensure that opioids are only marketed for uses where they are both safe and effective.
  • On May 13th, Senators Manchin and Pat Toomey reintroduced the bipartisan Improving Medicaid Programs’ Response to Overdose Victims and Enhancing (IMPROVE) Addiction Care Act to provide greater assistance to individuals who have struggled with substance use disorder by requiring state Medicaid programs to use jointly-funded Drug Utilization Review programs to help connect patients to treatment and boost safeguards for those on Medicaid who have experienced a non-fatal, opioid-related overdose.
  • On May 11th, Senator Manchin reintroduced the DEA Enforcement and Authority Act, which would restore the DEA ability to effectively enforce our nation’s drug laws.
  • On April 29th, Senators Manchin, Capito and King introduced the FDA Accountability for Public Safety Act which would ensure experts are heard when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers new, dangerous opioid medications. Senator Manchin also called on Congress to pass permanent rescheduling of fentanyl and fentanyl related substances after the Senate unanimously passed an extension of the temporary fentanyl rescheduling through October 22, 2021.
  • On April 28th, Senator Manchin reintroduced the Protecting Americans from Dangerous Opioids Act, which would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove one opioid medication currently on the market for every new opioid medication that they approve.
  • On April 26th, Senator Manchin reintroduced the Changing the Culture of the FDA Act, which would amend the FDA mission statement to include the agency’s responsibility for addressing the ongoing drug epidemic.
  • On April 22nd, Senators Manchin and Tim Scott introduced the bipartisan Non-Opioid Directive (NOD) Act, which would establish a non-opioid directive form that allows patients to notify health professionals that they do not wish to be treated with opioids.
  • On April 21st, Senator Manchin delivered remarks on the Senate Floor urging Congress to pass his bipartisan bill, FIGHT Fentanyl Act, which would permanently reschedule fentanyl and fentanyl related substances.
  • On March 26th, Senator Manchin led seven Senators in calling on President Joe Biden to bring in new FDA leadership to address the growing opioid epidemic that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A timeline of Senator Manchin’s efforts to address the drug epidemic can be found here.
Background information on the LifeBOAT Act can be found here.
Bill text can be found here.