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May 27, 2016

King, Capito, Brown Introduce Legislation to Support Treatment for Babies Exposed to Opioids

The Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies Act would recognize “residential pediatric recovery facilities” as a type of provider under Medicaid

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) this week introduced legislation that would help newborns suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a withdrawal condition often caused by use of opioids and other addictive substances in pregnant women. The Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act would allow states to recognize residential pediatric recovery facilities as providers under Medicaid, enabling the facilities to bill Medicaid for the services they offer. The bill does not cost additional money but allows babies to receive quality care in the best setting.

“The pain caused by America’s opioid epidemic knows no bounds, affecting even our youngest and most innocent members of society,” said Senator King. “As we work to tackle this crisis in our communities, expanding treatment options for newborns and their mothers who have been exposed to opioids must be part of the solution. By giving states the choice to recognize residential pediatric recovery facilities as providers under Medicaid, this bill can increase options for young families struggling with this heartbreaking situation so that babies affected by the relentless wave of addiction receive the quality care they need.”

Neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS, is a withdrawal condition in newborns often caused by the prenatal use of opioids in pregnant women. Because newborns with NAS require specialized care, caring for these babies can result in longer hospital stays and increased costs. These babies are usually treated in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and treatment costs are more than five times the cost of treating other newborns. In Maine, approximately 1,000 newborns – or an estimated 1 in 12 births – were addicted to or affected by drugs last year.

The CRIB Act would allow Medicaid to cover these services in residential pediatric recovery facilities in addition to hospitals. An alternative setting to a NICU, residential pediatric recovery facilities offer specialized care and an environment conducive to treating newborns with NAS, as well as counseling for mothers and families that emphasizes family bonding.

The CRIB Act also complements legislation introduced earlier this year by Senators King and Capito that would direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to establish new guidelines for residential pediatric recovery centers. While there are currently no residential pediatric recovery centers in Maine, the legislation aims to create a federal structure that would provide the opportunity to more easily develop such facilities if desired.

Earlier this year, Senators King, Capito, and Brown also teamed up to introduce legislation that would expand our knowledge of NAS by directing the U.S. Government Accountability Office to identify any federal obstacles to care for NAS babies.

The CRIB Act has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Mike Turner (R-Ohio-10) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio-13).



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