A bipartisan bill to support treatment for babies exposed to opioids is being reintroduced in the Senate.
U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Angus King (I-ME) are continuing efforts to develop legislation that would help newborns suffering from addiction recover in the best care setting and provide support for their families.
“The Ohio Department of Health estimates that about 84 infants are being treated for drug withdrawal in Ohio hospitals every day,” said Portman. “We must ensure women who are pregnant have access to care and treatment for a substance use disorder. My Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) enacted important changes in the law to ensure that hospitals followed a plan to safe care when babies were born dependent on opioids or other substances. I am also excited about a pilot under CARA that will fund residential treatment for women that allows babies to stay in a safe environment with their mother, instead of being removed from the home. The CRIB Act will provide another opportunity to ensure babies are given the care they need to thrive and I am pleased to cosponsor this bill.”
“With the right care, newborns suffering from addiction have every shot of growing up and leading a healthy life. But treating these babies in the hospital is expensive and can be overwhelming for families,” said Brown. “We must ensure that Ohio moms and babies have access to residential treatment facilities that specialize in giving them the specific kind of care they need and at a lower cost to taxpayers.”
“Every 25 minutes, a baby is born already suffering from opioid withdrawal, and in West Virginia, that rate is approximately three times the national average,” Capito said. “It is vitally important that we make sure infants experiencing this pain have access to specialized care and a range of treatment options. Lily’s Place in West Virginia is already doing a remarkable job of providing that kind of care, and the CRIB Act will make it easier for other states and communities to do the same.”
“The consequences of the opioid epidemic are tragic and far-reaching, hurting even the youngest and most innocent members of our society,” King said. “In Maine today, an estimated one in 12 babies is born with drugs in their system. It’s heartbreaking, but there are steps we can take to help them overcome this tragic struggle – one of which is providing easier access to the type of specialized care that will help put mothers and their children on the road to a healthy and successful life. This bipartisan bill will help make the services provided by residential pediatric care facilities more attainable for families, which will make our children healthier, our families stronger and our communities safer.”
The legislators issued a press release on the matter this week, in which they outline Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), which is a withdrawal condition often caused by use of opioids and other addictive substances in pregnant women.
Officials note that babies with NAS are usually treated in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and treatment costs are more than five times the cost of treating other newborns.
Some health experts suggest however; the bright lights and loud noises, the NICU is not always the best place for newborns suffering from withdrawal.
Those in support of the bill point to residential pediatric recovery facilities as an alternative setting. They explain the facilities will “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 outline of the Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act is outlined verbatim from the press release issued this week: It would recognize residential pediatric recovery facilities as providers under Medicaid, allowing Medicaid to cover these services in residential pediatric recovery facilities in addition to hospitals. The bill does not cost tax payers any additional money, but allows babies to receive quality care in the best setting. Dayton, Ohio is home to Brigid’s Path, a residential treatment facility for babies with NAS. U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Evan Jenkins (R-WV), Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Michael Turner (R-OH) introduced a companion bill in the House.
The statistics around NAS are shocking. Studies report that cases of NAS have tripled over the last ten years. In Ohio alone, NAS reportedly increased six-fold between 2004 and 2011, from 14 cases per 10,000 live births in 2004 to 88 cases per 10,000 live births in 2011.
Even more, the Ohio Department of Health released 2015 data that there had been 2,174 hospital admissions for NAS, and reported that an average of 84 infants were being treated for drug withdrawal by Ohio hospitals every day.
And in terms of cost, the Ohio Department of Health reported that treating newborns with NAS in 2015 alone was associated with more than $133 million in health-system costs.