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May 23, 2018

King Re-Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Support Treatment for Babies Exposed to Opioids

Bipartisan Bill would Provide Greater Support to Treat Babies Exposed to Opioids with No Additional Cost to Taxpayers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues to introduced legislation to be considered by the Senate Finance Committee that would help newborns suffering from addiction recover in the best care setting and provide support for their families. The Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act would allow Medicaid to cover health care services provided to infants in residential pediatric recovery facilities in addition to hospitals.

“The pain inflicted by the opioid epidemic knows no limits, and spares no member of our society – not even our newborns,” said Senator King. “An estimated 1 in every 12 babies born is Maine enters this world with drugs in their system; that is a heartbreaking statistic that we cannot accept. We need bipartisan solutions like the CRIB Act to increase access to the care that can make a real impact on the health of our children, families and communities.”

The legislation is similar to an earlier iteration of the CRIB Act Senator King introduced at this time last year, but the latest version of this legislation would clarify that babies receiving services in residential pediatric recovery centers can continue to receive services after one year of age, and provide for activities to encourage caregiver-infant bonding. In addition to Senator King, the bill is supported by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a withdrawal condition often caused by use of opioids and other addictive substances in pregnant women. Babies with NAS are usually treated in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where treatment costs can be more than five times the cost of treating other newborns. With the bright lights and loud noises, the NICU is not always the best place for newborns suffering from withdrawal. Residential pediatric recovery facilities, an alternative setting to a NICU, offer specialized care and an environment conducive to treating newborns with NAS, as well as counseling for mothers and families that emphasizes caregiver-infant bonding. The CRIB Act would allow Medicaid to reimburse for covered Medicaid services in residential pediatric recovery facilities in addition to hospitals.

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