On January 29, 2019, United States Representative David “Phil” Roe introduced House Concurrent Resolution 8, expressing the sense of Congress on the need to improve and expand training for future physicians on properly treating pain and prescribing opioids.
The resolution calls for several changes relating to education and opioids, including that medical schools should continue to improve and expand training for future physicians about how to properly treat pain and prescribe opioids so all providers graduate with a better understanding of how to properly prescribe opioids. It also calls for residency programs to devote a specific focus to proper opioid prescribing for each specialty.
When it comes to mid-level health care providers, the resolution suggests that they should receive additional training while in school as to appropriate prescribing practices for opioids and that current practitioners should receive additional training in pain management and opioid prescribing habits through continuing medical education.
Because this has been introduced as a concurrent resolution, the process for its passage looks slightly different from a typical bill introduced in the House or Senate. Concurrent resolutions are typically used to address the sentiments of both chambers, to deal with issues or matters affecting both chambers, or to create a temporary joint committee, and must be passed in the same form by both of the houses. Concurrent resolutions are not submitted to the President once agreed to by both parts of the legislature, and therefore, they do not have the force of law.
Representatives Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Ami Bera (D-CA), and Andy Harris (R-MD) have signed on to cosponsor the resolution.
The resolution has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for further review and discussion. In the 115th Congress, the same resolution was introduced and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on September 13, 2018. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the way this proposed resolution progresses through the more harshly politicized and divided 116th Congress this year.