H.R. 5052, Opioid Program Evaluation Act or the “OPEN Act”

H.R. 5052

Opioid Program Evaluation Act or the “OPEN Act”

Date
May 10, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, May 10, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 5052, the Opioid Program Evaluation Act, or the “OPEN” Act, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on April 26, 2016, by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Bill Summary

H.R. 5052 will require an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Department of Justice’s Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Grant Program and other programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to address opioid abuse. Specifically, it requires the Attorney General (through an arrangement with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)) and Secretary of HHS (through an arrangement with NAS or another entity) to: identify outcomes that are to be achieved by the activities funded by Congress to address opioid abuse; develop the metrics by which each program’s performance will be evaluated; complete an interim evaluation assessing the nature and extent of opioid abuse and illegal opioid distribution in the United States; and carry out an evaluation of the effectiveness of the programs. Additionally, to increase transparency and facilitate the evaluation of the performance of the programs, the bill requires grantees to collect and annually report data on the activities conducted pursuant to these programs. Finally, in the case of HHS, the OPEN Act provides that if an HHS opioid-related program is already subject to an evaluation substantially similar to the evaluation required by the Act, the Secretary may opt not to conduct such an evaluation.

 

Background

The United States is experiencing an epidemic of drug overdose deaths. Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137 percent, including a 200 percent increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin). During 2014, a total of 47,055 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, with more than 28,000 deaths involving some type of opioid, including heroin. Natural and semisynthetic opioids, which include the most commonly prescribed opioid pain relievers (oxycodone and hydrocodone), continue to be involved in more overdose deaths than any other opioid derived drug.[1]

The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Grant Program is established in H.R. 5046, the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act of 2016. H.R 5046 authorizes $103,000,000 for each fiscal year 2017 through 2021 to carry out the program.[2]

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[1] See CDC: Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths – United States, 2000-2014
[2] See the Legislative Digest for H.R. 5046

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing H.R. 5052 would cost about $4 million over the 2016-2021 period, assuming enactment—through separate legislation—of a grant program to combat opioid abuse. Such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds. For grant programs administered by DOJ, the department sets aside a portion of the funds appropriated for the grants to cover the cost of certain administrative activities including the evaluation of grantees.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.