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Tonko, McKinley Push Addiction Treatment Access with New Bill

Bipartisan legislation prevents red tape from blocking state Medicaid support for MAT services

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Washington, November 18, 2019 | comments

WASHINGTON—U.S. Representatives Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) and David McKinley (R-WV) announced the introduction of new bipartisan legislation today in the House of Representatives to reduce red tape and make it easier for patients with a substance use disorder (SUD) to get treatment through state-run Medicaid programs. The legislation, H.R. 3925: Reducing Barriers to Substance Use Treatment Act, would prohibit state Medicaid programs from using onerous utilization management techniques—including prior authorization requirements—to make it harder for patients to get medication-assisted treatments (MAT) for opioid use disorder. 

“Every American leader needs to pull out all the stops to address our nation’s overdose epidemic, the leading cause of death for Americans under 50,” said Congressman Tonko. “We need to make sure every American who suffers from addiction is getting the care they need to find and follow the path of recovery. We lost more than 68,000 lives to this preventable epidemic last year alone. Even with the bipartisan progress we have made on this issue, a vast treatment gap still exists. When individuals struggling with addiction have their moment of clarity and begin to seek treatment, we need to make sure their path to recovery is not blocked by red tape. Our legislation ensures state Medicaid programs are putting patient health first and reducing or eliminating unnecessary barriers that could otherwise prevent patients from getting the lifesaving addiction treatment services they need.”

“In my state of West Virginia, we have one person dying every eight hours from drug addiction. Yet, all too often we hear, that due to barriers and red tape, people are unable to access the help they need,” said Congressman McKinley.  "This bipartisan legislation will remove barriers in state Medicaid programs that delay patients access to medication-assisted treatment.”

The Tonko-McKinley legislation has received endorsements from numerous public health organizations including: AIDS United, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, CADA of Northwest Louisiana, Central City Concern, Connecticut Certification Board, Faces and Voices of Recovery, National Alliance for Medication Assisted (NAMA) Recovery, National Council for Behavioral Health, National Safety Council, Illinois Association of Behavioral Health, National Association for Behavioral Healthcare, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, Partnership for Drug Free Kids + Center of Addiction, Shatterproof, SMART Recovery, The American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine, The Kennedy Forum, Treatment Communities of America, Young People in Recovery.

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