Senators propose fee on prescription opioids to fund treatment programs

U.S. Sens. Angus King (I-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) proposed a bill Tuesday that would impose a fee on prescription opioids as a way to fund substance abuse treatment programs. The fee would be one cent on each milligram of active opioid ingredients in prescription analgesics, and would generate an estimated $1.5 billion to $2 billion per year.

U.S. Sens. Angus King (I-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) proposed a bill Tuesday that would impose a fee on prescription opioids as a way to fund substance abuse treatment programs. The fee would be one cent on each milligram of active opioid ingredients in prescription analgesics, and would generate an estimated $1.5 billion to $2 billion per year. Many patients would not directly pay the fee because of how their insurance coverage pays for prescriptions. Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Bill Nelson of Florida have signed on as co-sponsors. The bill does not yet have any Republican co-sponsors, and it is unclear whether it would attract bipartisan support. The bill would carve out exceptions to the fee for opioids used to treat cancer pain, hospice care, and for prescriptions used to treat addiction.