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Lawmakers Unveil Groundbreaking Addiction Treatment Reform Bill

Bipartisan legislation builds on past success to deliver unprecedented access to safe & proven addiction treatment

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Washington, May 2, 2019 | comments

WASHINGTONU.S. Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY), Antonio Delgado (D-NY), Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Ted Budd (R-NC), Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Mike Turner (R-OH) unveiled groundbreaking legislation today to greatly expand access to life-saving medication to treat addiction on a scale not seen since the start of America’s opioid crisis. The bill, H.R. 2482: the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, would end an outdated redundancy in federal law that restricts health providers from prescribing buprenorphine, a proven treatment that has helped countless Americans suffering with a substance use disorder. Providers can already prescribe the drug for pain management but are forced to go through a burdensome process to apply for a special DEA waiver to prescribe it to treat addiction.

“America’s opioid epidemic has ravaged countless American families and shocked the conscience of our nation,” said Congressman Tonko, the bill’s lead sponsor. “Despite a heartbreaking death toll that has set new records in each of the last two years, we are not powerless in the face of this crisis. For nearly two decades, buprenorphine has provided the cornerstone for safe, effective and life-saving treatment for Americans with a diagnosed substance use disorder. Every success story it has helped produce is powerful, and today there are many. We need to unbind the hands of our medical professionals on the front lines of this epidemic and make this proven, safe addiction treatment available to every American working to overcome addiction and find or follow the path of recovery. And we need to do it now.”

“This is a matter of life and death. Patients with access to medication-assisted treatment are half as likely to die from an opioid use disorder. Congress must take advantage of every opportunity to increase access to medication-assisted treatment. This is why I am introducing the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act which would address this issue by eliminating the redundant and outdated requirement that practitioners apply for a separate waiver through the DEA to prescribe buprenorphine. We cannot allow stigma and a profound lack of awareness about medication assisted treatment to kill more people in this country,” said Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).

“The opioid epidemic is ravaging communities across the country, including many in Upstate New York. And yet, backward policies make it harder to prescribe addiction treatment medication than to prescribe opioids themselves. In rural communities like the ones I represent, this creates a significant barrier to accessing proven and effective addiction medications like buprenorphine,” Congressman Antonio Delgado said. “Congress must act to make this lifesaving addiction medication more accessible and, in turn, destigmatize addiction so folks will see it for what it is—a disease that requires treatment. I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan MAT Act to remove regulatory barriers to buprenorphine and other addiction medications that prevent opioid overdose deaths and give those suffering with this horrible disease a second chance.”

“The opioid epidemic has struck many families in my district and has hit many other communities around the country,” said Congressman Ted Budd. “One of the buckets I focus on when looking at ways to tackle this crisis is how we treat those who are already suffering. Some medications that are out there are prescribed for both the treatment of pain and addiction. Specifically, buprenorphine is a well-established treatment for someone who’s addicted to opioids. But right now there’s a redundant, outdated requirement that says practitioners must apply for a separate waiver through the DEA to prescribe buprenorphine to treat substance abuse. This bill gets rid of that requirement with the hope that more people can get effective treatment and ultimately overcome their addiction. This is a simple, bipartisan bill that would help in combatting this epidemic, and I will do everything I can to get it across the finish line.”

“The fact that it is easier for medical professionals to prescribe opioids than it is to prescribe safe and effective treatment medications for those struggling with addiction is a failing of our system,” said Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. “Doctors should not have to jump through arbitrary hoops in order to try and save their patients’ lives, which is why I’m co-leading the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act — a commonsense piece of legislation that will save lives and fight to end the opioid crisis.”

 

  • 70,237 people died of an overdose in America in 2017, more than automotive & gun deaths combined
  • Overdose fatalities are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50
  • Americans are dying from this illness faster than they did at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic that sparked a national movement to address it
  • Just 1 in 5 individuals with a substance use disorder is getting the treatment they need
  • After France took similar action to make buprenorphine available without a specialized waiver, opioid overdose deaths declined by 79 percent over a four-year period

The Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act

  • Eliminates the redundant, outdated requirement that practitioners apply for a separate waiver through the DEA to prescribe buprenorphine for substance use disorder treatment
  • Requires the Secretary of HHS to conduct a national campaign to educate practitioners about the change in law and encouraging providers to integrate substance use treatment into their practices

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