CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 3691, the Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act of 2016, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 3691 was introduced on October 6, 2015 by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), and was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by a voice vote on April 28, 2016.
H.R. 3691 would reauthorize the Pregnant and Postpartum Women (PPW) program through 2021 and create a pilot program to promote innovative service delivery models. The pilot program would seek to enhance flexibility for substance abuse treatment agencies and address gaps in the continuum of care for pregnant and postpartum women. Of the funds made available for the pilot program, up to 25 percent may be used for outpatient treatment services as long as the program does not lose funding.
The pilot program shall not exceed five years. At the end of five years, the Director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality will be required to fund an evaluation of the pilot program and submit a report to Congress on outcomes information derived from the pilot program.
Clinically, it may not be appropriate for pregnant women who are abusing opioids, either prescription pain killers or illegal opioids, to go through withdrawals because it can increase their risk of miscarriage. However, babies who are exposed to opioids in utero are often times born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). A newborn with NAS will exhibit signs of acute opioid withdrawal and be under distress. Mothers who are addicted to opioids are at times sent home with a child with NAS and are under or unprepared for those first few weeks with their baby. Residential treatment programs such as the ones reauthorized by H.R. 3691 provide a safe and stable environment for the mother and child to health, tackle their opioid use disorder head on, and learn the skills they need to be a the best mother they can be. Children born with NAS do not have lifelong complications such as a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. However, the first few weeks of their life can be very challenging for both mom and baby.
The purpose of the PPW program is “to expand the availability of comprehensive, residential substance abuse treatment, prevention, and recovery support services for pregnant and postpartum women and their minor children, including services for non-residential family members of both the women and children.”
According to the bill sponsor, “By supporting efforts that focus on pregnant women and women with young children and providing innovative new ways to deliver treatment, we can break the cycle of addiction and help ensure these children start out on the right path”
 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), http://www.samhsa.gov/grants/grant-announcements/ti-14-005
A Congressional Budget Office estimate is currently unavailable. However, H.R. 3691 authorizes $16.9 million for each fiscal years 2017 through 2021. The bill is cut-go compliant.
For questions or further information please contact Jason Grassie with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 3-1555.