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What it does 

Section 704 of HR 5515, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, directs the Defense Health Agency to establish a pilot program that aims to minimize early opioid exposure and to prevent progression to misuse or abuse of opioid medications among those covered by the TRICARE program. TRICARE beneficiaries can include current or former military servicemembers and their immediate families.

The pilot program is intended to maximize opioid safety across the continuum of care so as to include patients, physicians and dentists, and pharmacists. In doing so, the pilot program will identify opportunities for opioid misuse or abuse; directly engage with TRICARE beneficiaries on how to avoid opioid misuse and abuse; monitor beneficiaries to predict the potential for opioid abuse and addiction; and provide home disposal kits to deactivate excess opioids. The program can last no more than three years. If the Defense Health Agency deems the program to be effective in reducing early opioid exposure, however, the program may become permanent.

A report detailing the components of the pilot program and assessing its effectiveness must be presented to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives no later than 180 days prior to the conclusion of the pilot program.


HR 5515 was passed in the House of Representatives on May 24, 2018 and in the Senate on June 18, 2018. Differences on the final draft of the bill are currently being resolved.


Sponsor: Representative Mac Thornberry (R-TX-13)

Cosponsor: Representative Adam Smith (D-WA-9)

Primary Author 
Bria Bugg, MS
Andrew Pericak, MEM
Recommended Citation 

Duke SciPol, "First Look: Pilot Program on Opioid Management in the Military Health System (Section 704, HR 5515, 115th Congress)" available at (07/31/2018).

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