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Senate Passes Opioids Package with Rubio Provision to Eliminate Patient Brokering

Oct 3, 2018 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act, which includes several provisions championed by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to prevent and treat opioid addiction, including the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act. This provision will help stop payments to middlemen referring patients to illicit sober homes and treatment centers—increasingly a problem in South Florida. The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which passed the House of Representatives last week, now heads to the President for signature.

In May, Rubio toured a Pompano Beach sober home and discussed challenges South Florida faces with the opioid crisis, which motivated many of the critical provisions he secured in the opioids package. Rubio also met with members of the Palm Beach County heroin and sober homes task forces to identify meaningful opportunities to end this crisis, which is where Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg raised the issue of patient brokering, leading to the creation of Rubio’s Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act.

“After touring a sober homes neighborhood in Pompano Beach earlier this year, I saw firsthand the challenges South Florida is facing in combatting its opioid crisis,” Rubio said. “That’s why I’ve been working hard in Washington to ensure we are doing everything possible for Americans to receive life-saving care and to ensure patients are protected from those seeking to exploit victims of addiction. This bill will help the many Americans struggling with addiction, and I’m proud of the provisions I secured, including measures to ensure necessary care for newborn babies suffering from opioid withdrawal, prevent unused drugs from ending up in the wrong hands, and target disreputable clinics and sober homes to ensure wrongdoers are punished. I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for their help in securing these important provisions, and I look forward to seeing this bill signed into law.”

Rubio-championed provisions:

  • The Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act, which Rubio introduced with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to help stop payments to middlemen referring patients to illicit sober homes and treatment centers;
  • Legislation to improve the quality of care provided to newborn babies suffering from opioid withdrawal by providing states additional funding to research babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS);
  • The Hospice Safe Drug Disposal Act, legislation to allow hospice providers to safely dispose of unused opioids so they do not end up in the wrong hands;
  • The Sober Home Fraud Detection Act, legislation to help states, law enforcement, private insurers and patients identify potentially illicit sober homes to help ensure those who need care are able to find reputable legitimate facilities;
  • The Synthetics Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances (SALTS) Act, which would make it easier for law enforcement to prosecute those that sell and distribute synthetic drugs that are substantially similar to other illegal drugs by closing a loophole that enabled wrongdoers to avoid prosecution by simply labeling the deadly drug as “not intended for human consumption;” and
  • The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, legislation to interdict fentanyl, synthetic opioids, and other narcotics by requiring international shipments though the U.S. Postal Service to provide advance information on where the shipment is coming from, where it is going, and its contents, and to instruct U.S. Postal Service and Customs and Border Protection to develop technology to identify fentanyl and illicit opioids entering the United States by mail.