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Photo:Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The House is voting on this week on a slew of bills related to the opioid crisis. Most of them would only make incremental steps toward combatting the epidemic, but a handful could make a more serious difference.

Between the lines: Incremental doesn't mean unimportant — many of these bills plug important holes in the law. But the most significant legislation aims to reduce the number of prescription opioids in circulation, increase access to addiction treatment and crack down on fentanyl coming into the U.S. through the mail.

Increasing access to treatment: Possibly the most significant bill on the floor this week would lift what's called the IMD exclusion — a ban on federal Medicaid funding for mental health treatment facilities with more than 16 beds.

  • The bill that passed the Energy and Commerce Committee would let state Medicaid programs remove the exclusion for adult beneficiaries who have an opioid use disorder. Medicaid would pay for up to 30 days of care per year, until 2023.
  • Final details are still being negotiated before the bill comes to the House floor.

New prescription opioid policies: These aim to get excess and unused prescription opioids out of circulation.

  • One bill, which passed out of committee, would requires the Food and Drug Administration to work with drug companies on ways to return or destroy unused opioids.
  • It also would facilitate new forms of opioid packaging. One popular idea has been "blister packs," which would include a set number opioid pills instead of the common 30-day prescription.
  • Another proposal would allow more providers to use buprenorphine, a type of medication-assisted therapy.

Cracking down on imported fentanyl: The House has already passed a bill that gives the FDA more authority to seize fentanyl arriving through international mail.

Other notable bills would encourage the development of alternative pain treatments, create addiction treatment models and create a national dashboard linking efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

Go deeper

Educators face fines, harassment over critical race theory

People talk before the start of a rally against critical race theory being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Va. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Elementary school teachers, administrators and college professors are facing fines, physical threats, and fear of firing because of an organized push from the right to remove classroom discussions of systemic racism.

Why it matters: Moves to ban critical race theory are raising free speech concerns amid an absence of consistent parameters about what teachings are in or out of bounds.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

1 dead after pickup truck hits Pride spectators in Florida

Police investigate the scene where a pickup truck drove into a crowd of people at a Pride parade in Wilton Manors, Florida, on Saturday. Photo: Jason Koerner/Getty Images

A driver in a pickup truck hit spectators at a Pride festival in Wilton Manors, Florida, killing a man and leaving another person hospitalized Saturday, authorities said.

Details: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis told reporters police had "apprehended the driver" and that the vehicle missed a parade car carrying Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) "by inches."

Updated 9 hours ago - Sports

Uganda Olympic team member tests positive for COVID in Tokyo

The Uganda National boxing team's Catherine Nanziri (L) and others arrive for check-in at Entebbe international airport in Wakiso, Uganda on Friday, ahead of their departure to participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo: Badru Katumba/AFP via Getty Images

A Uganda Olympic team member tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Japan late Saturday, officials said.

Why it matters: Japan's government has faced criticism for vowing to host the Tokyo Games next month as coronavirus cases rise. The Ugandan team is the second to arrive in Japan after the Australian women's softball players, and this is the first COVID-19 infection detected among the Olympic athletes, Al Jazeera notes.