WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) have introduced the bipartisan Enhancing Access to Addiction Treatment Act of 2018 to help train more new doctors to prescribe medication-assisted treatment to help combat the fentanyl, heroin and opioid epidemic and saves lives.
The bipartisan bill would support medical schools and residency programs in training students and residents in addiction medicine in order to allow more new doctors to prescribe medication-assisted treatment. The legislation would also streamline the process for getting a waiver to prescribe medication-assisted treatment to ensure that students or residents who receive training can apply to prescribe medication-assisted treatment as soon as they graduate medical school, get licensed to practice medicine, and get a DEA number – the same time they are allowed to start prescribing opioids.
“Combatting the opioid crisis requires expanding access to all forms of medication-assisted treatment (MAT),” Portman said. “This important legislation will remove some of the barriers that prevent physicians from prescribing MAT and will also greatly expand training for physicians in medical schools and residency programs.”
“Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment is critical to helping save lives and turning the tide of the devastating opioid crisis,” Hassan said. “By helping to get more new doctors trained to prescribe medication-assisted treatment, this bipartisan bill will help strengthen our treatment infrastructure and give those struggling with substance use disorder the support they need to get on the road to recovery.”
“This country’s addiction treatment gap will never be closed with the current addiction treatment workforce. There are simply too few physicians with the requisite knowledge to meet the needs of the millions of Americans suffering from untreated substance use disorders,” said Kelly J. Clark, MD, MBA, DFAPA, DFASAM, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). “To make a meaningful and sustainable impact on the current opioid overdose epidemic, and to stave off future epidemics related to other addictive substances, it is imperative that our nation make strategic investments in the education of our medical students and residents. By also establishing an additional pathway to obtain a DATA waiver, the Enhancing Access to Addiction Treatment Act will increase the number of physicians who will enter the practice of medicine better equipped to help patients suffering with addiction. To this end, ASAM is proud to support this important piece of legislation.”
“Enhancing Access to Addiction Treatment will help meet the critical gaps in physician education and increase the number of physicians who treat patients with MAT,” said Shawn A. Ryan, MD, MBA, president of the Ohio Society of Addiction Medicine. “Improving access to treatment must continue to be a priority in responding to the opioid epidemic. At BrightView, where I am the Chief Medical Officer, we have a robust residency rotation with two hospitals in Cincinnati. This program has been very well received by the physicians in training who have rotated with us and many of them have gone on to prescribe MAT for patients in need. Ohio is definitely on the frontlines of this crisis and we appreciate Senator Portman’s leadership on this legislation.”
In order to get more new doctors trained to prescribe medication-assisted treatment, this bipartisan bill would:
• Provide voluntary grants to support the development of comprehensive training for medical students and residents on addiction and treating and managing opiate-dependent patients, and
• Allow physicians who have comprehensive training in treating and managing opiate-dependent patients to apply for a federal DATA waiver to prescribe medication-assisted treatment as soon as they graduate medical school, get licensed to practice, and get a DEA number – eliminating the need for these physicians to take an additional 8-hour training course.
The bill has been endorsed by the American Medical Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, Federation of State Medical Boards, Northern New England Society of Addiction Medicine, A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing), Academy of Integrative Pain Management, American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians, Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, National Safety Council, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, Shatterproof, The Kennedy Forum, and Young People in Recovery.