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Support for Patients and Communities Act: Review of a Bill

The opioid crisis in the United States caused significant concern in legal and healthcare systems. Various measures were taken to investigate the issue; however, the death rate kept increasing. The government signed Support for Patients and Communities Act in 2018, which provisioned increased access to the opioid treatment and implemented various programs to fight the opioid crisis. The paper also examines the opinions on the bill and its impact on nurses.

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Major provisions of the bill

The bill’s provisions investigate the primary issue connected to the opioid overuse. Regulations are designed to improve pain management by promoting non-opioid options. The bill also supports individuals with opioid addiction by increasing access to evidence-based treatment and providing various programs with the help of Medicare and Medicaid that aim to support exposed patients. Moreover, the bill allows the state to use the Medicaid program to cover care in organizations for mental diseases.

The bill also focuses on youth hoping to investigate the issue as early as possible to prevent the addiction or catch it in the early phase as the bill expands Medicaid eligibility for former foster care youth. Hence, the state requires Medicaid to provide coverage until the age of 26, which aims to ensure that vulnerable patients will receive appropriate care. One of the provisions also ensures safe access to medications as it requires Medicare using e-prescribing for opioids. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed to changed requests for manufacturers to prescribe smaller quantities or change days of the supply. Therefore, the provisions focus on providing more effective treatment for individuals with opioid addiction and aims to prevent such cases in the future.

Background and relevant facts

The rise in the availability of opioids resulted in an increased amount of lethal cases in the United States, which led to the opioid epidemic. According to the Skolnick (2018), “more than 33,000 deaths were attributable to overdose with licit and illicit opioids” in 2015 (p. 144). Hence, the abuse in the prescription was observed, and the issue required extreme attention and further investigation. As the opioid epidemic became a public health emergency, the government became concerned and needed to investigate such a crucial problem.

The government had tried to address the issue to prevent the crisis earlier. For instance, President Barack Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016 (Davis, 2019). The acts intended to help people with addiction and reduce the number of deaths related to the overdose. However, the acts did not prove to be sufficient enough as the number of deaths kept growing. During the 115th Congress, United States decided to legislate the “Support for Patients and Communities Act” on October 24th, 2018. The government implemented the act to “provide for opioid use disorder prevention, recovery, and treatment, and for other purposes.” (“Support for Patients and Communities Act”, H.R.6, 2018, para. 3).

Key supporters and those who did not support the bill

The majority voted for the law approval. Donald Tramp was the key supporter as he believed that the signed act can help drastically with the opioid crisis. However, one senator, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), voted against the law, stating that the effectiveness of the programs proposed in the bill was doubtful due to the absence of deep analysis and clear guide on program implementation. (“Sen. Lee Votes Against Unaccountable Opioid Spending”, 2018) Hence, he believed that spending funds on such programs may not bring desirable results that the healthcare system needs to address an epidemic. Despite this opinion, 99% of the voters agreed to implement the law and pass it to the legislation (Support for Patients and Communities Act, H.R.6, 2018).

Position of stakeholders

However, some of the representatives who supported the law, did not agree to all provisions. For instance, Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is not entirely agreed with the bill rulings. Even though he supported the motives of the bill, believing that law can make changes for those who suffer from opioid addiction, he still has specific concerns. Pallone is concerned that President Trump undermines the healthcare system as he attempts to cut the funding for Medicate and “eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions” (“Pallone touts opioid legislation as it becomes law”, 2018, para. 2). He believes that the government should focus on protecting people’s access to health care instead.

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Impact on Nurses

As the law implies various significant changes, it may alter the performance of nurse specialists. For instance, the bill gives nurses the ability to prescribe medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as it expands the authority of specialists who can prescribe MAT (Joyce 2018).

Another influence the bill has on the nurse in practice is the ability to provide more extended services. For instance, mental and healthcare providers who participate in the National Health Service Corps will be able to provide care at community-based settings. It also supports opioid recovery centers, which offer various treatment services. Due to the implementation of various programs, nurse practitioners also need to undergo extracurricular training. Such measures should improve the quality of the care provided by the nurses and increase safety care for patients.

Hence, Support for Patients and Communities Act caused a significant shift in how opioid addiction is perceived, and it showed the readiness of the government to end the opioid crisis. Various provisions focus not only on treating patients with addiction but also on preventing similar cases in the future. Meanwhile, nurses have an opportunity to obtain more knowledge on treatment exposed patients and expand their skills.


Davis, C. S. (2019). The support for patients and communities act — What will it mean for the opioid-overdose crisis? The New England Journal of Medicine, 380(1). Web.

Joyce, D. (2018). The 660-page opioids bill is now the law. Here’s what’s in It. Web.

Pallone touts opioid legislation as it becomes law (2018). Web.

Skolnick, P. (2018). The opioid epidemic: Crisis and solutions. Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Web.

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Sen. Lee votes against unaccountable opioid spending. (2018). Web.

Support for patients and communities Act, H.R.6, 115th Congress (2018). Web.

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