On May 11th, the full House of Representatives considered and passed H.R. 3691, the Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act.
The bill was authored by Rep. Luján (D-NM). Original co-sponsors include Reps. Tonko (D-NY), Matsui (D-CA) and Cardenas (D-CA). Other co-sponsors included Reps. Pascrell (D-NJ), Ryan (D-OH), Schakowsky (D-IL), Kennedy (D-MA), Payne (D-NJ), Young (R-AK), Noem (R-SD), Turner (R-OH), Norton (D-DC), Slaughter (D-NY) and others.
Reauthorization of the “PPW” Program: The Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act would reauthorize the residential services for pregnant and postpartum women grant program (PPW) within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). This important program supports family-centered substance use disorder services – including services for opioid use disorders – for women along with services for their young children in residential settings.
Creation of Pilot Program for State Substance Abuse Agencies: The bill would also create a pilot program for State substance abuse agencies to use up to 25 percent of these funds for services for pregnant and parenting women and their children in non-residential settings.
The purpose of the pilot program is to spur innovation and fill gaps in family-centered services across the continuum of care. The legislation would require SAMHSA to lead a process where State substance abuse agencies, experts in addiction services and others would meet to discuss the development of the new application for the pilot program.
Funding: In FY 2016, the PPW program received $15.9 million. The bill as originally introduced authorized $40 million for the PPW and pilot program. During the markup held in the full House Energy and Commerce Committee, an amendment was offered to change the authorization of funds in the bill from $40 million to $16.9 million.
“Trigger Language” Added During Mark-Up: Further, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), the original sponsor of the bill, offered an amendment that would authorize the use of funds for the pilot program only if the amount for the overall PPW program exceeded FY 2016 funding levels.
Next Steps: The House must now work with the Senate to iron out differences between versions that have been moving forward in both chambers.
Senator Ayotte (R-NH) joined Senators Whitehouse (D-RI), Klobuchar (D-MN) and Capito (R-WV) to introduce the Senate version of the bill (S. 2226).
The text of S. 2226 was ultimately included in S. 524, Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), sponsored by Senators Whitehouse (D-RI), Portman (R-OH), Klobuchar (D-MN), Ayotte (NH). CARA was approved by the Senate by a vote of 94 to 1 in March 2016.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee included a version of the bill in a package of mental health and substance use disorder bills approved by the panel on March 16 of this year. The HELP Committee is led by Senator Alexander (R-TN) and the most senior HELP Committee Democrat is Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).
Source: Robert I.L. Morrison, Executive Director/Director of Legislative Affairs National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD)