Menendez Opioid Legislation Passes Key Committee as Part of Bipartisan Senate Package to Address Nationwide Scourge of Addiction

Menendez Opioid Legislation Passes Key Committee as Part of Bipartisan Senate Package to Address Nationwide Scourge of Addiction

The ‘Helping to End Addiction and Lessen’ (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018 passes Senate Finance Committee


WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, applauded the committee’s passage today of the Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018, a broad, bipartisan bill that will extend the federal response to the nationwide opioid epidemic. The final package, which gives states and local communities flexibility in utilizing Medicaid and grant funding to expand access to treatment programs, includes five measures authored by Sen. Menendez.

“Opioid abuse does not discriminate; it destroys lives and families from all walks of life across New Jersey and the nation, impacting our friends, neighbors and loved ones.  I am proud that this comprehensive approach to battling the opioid epidemic includes several of my priority initiatives to help individuals and families struggling with addiction,” said Sen. Menendez.  “This legislation takes concrete steps to meaningfully address the scourge of addiction, providing states with greater flexibility to broaden treatment options, and strengthen families by keeping more kids at home and out of foster care while their loved ones gain the tools necessary to succeed in recovery.”   

In 2016, 2,221 New Jerseyans died in drug overdose deaths. In the first six months of this year, another 1,268 people lost their lives due to drug overdoses.


The HEAL Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018 includes the following Menendez provisions:


Improving Recovery and Reunifying Families Act

  • Helps reunify families by reducing the time kids spend in foster care while their parents get treatment. This bill embraces a “recovery coach model” and creates a national pilot reunification program where caseworkers assist parents throughout the recovery process. It is based on an Illinois recovery program that has been shown to reduce the length of time children spend in foster care.
  • New Jersey has the ability to leverage its experience with peer coaches, home visiting and support services programs to help parents with substance use disorder manage their recovery and keep families intact.

Supporting Family Focused Residential Treatment Act

  • Allows children to remain with their family while their parents seek treatment in residential treatment facilities so children don’t have to go into foster care. States like New Jersey will be able to use Medicaid and Federal Foster Care Program (Title IV-E) funding to do this.

The Building Capacity for Family-Focused Residential Treatment Act

  • Provides $20 million for eligible states, counties, local child welfare agencies, treatment service providers and private non-profit organizations to offer evidence-based and family-focused residential treatment and prevention programs so children can reside with their parents or guardians who are receiving treatment.

Securing Flexibility to Treat Substance Use Disorders Act

  • Allows New Jersey to fund inpatient psychiatric care at certain facilities for the first time.
  • Allows states to fund up to 15 days of inpatient treatment services and inpatient psychiatric care for patients suffering from substance use disorders.
  • The bill provides an exception to a rule under current law that blocks Medicaid from paying for this kind of treatment if a facility has more than 16 beds. New Jersey currently has a waiver to do this already to treat substance use disorders, but this bill would also allow Medicaid dollars to be used for inpatient psychiatric care.

Opioid Addiction Treatment Programs Enhancement Act (OATPEA)

  • Medicaid already collects a significant amount of data, but has yet to use it to help states develop policies. This bill would require an annual report from CMS with data on opioid issues in Medicaid that would be available to third party researchers

Senator Bob Menendez has a long track record on this issue:

  • Sen. Menendez cosponsored the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which was signed into law by President Obama. The law provides resources to states to expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription drugs and to develop better monitoring systems for prescription drug use, makes naloxone more widely available to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help prevent overdoses and save lives, creates an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program, and sets national treatment standards.
  • The senator has successfully pushed back Republican efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid expansion, which gives thousands of New Jerseyans access to vital mental health and substance abuse services. Sen. Menendez visited a community health center in Newark, where he met recovering addicts who credited Medicaid with saving their lives.