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Senators from Md., Maine seek help for seniors struggling with opioid use

BANGOR, Maine — Senators from Maine and Maryland have proposed legislation they said would support older residents who are addicted to opioids.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland said Wednesday they’ve introduced a bill to address challenges that Medicare beneficiaries face when seeking treatment for addiction. Collins said the toll of the opioid epidemic on older adults is an underappreciated aspect of the crisis.

More than 10% of drug overdose deaths in Maine were among residents age 60 and older last year, Collins said. The senators’ proposal would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to conduct outreach to beneficiaries to improve their awareness of treatment for opioid use disorder, they said.

The proposal would also provide the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration with important data, such as figures about the number of Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with the disorder, the senators said.

“The opioid epidemic continues to claim the lives of far too many people, with a record number of both Mainers and Americans lost in 2021,” Collins said.