Tonko, Turner Respond to President’s Call to Advance their Addiction Treatment Legislation
Bipartisan Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act is the answer to Biden’s call to remove barriers in treatment
Washington, March 2, 2022
Tags: Addiction & Recovery
WASHINGTON, DC—Following President Biden’s State of the Union address where he called for the removal of barriers in addiction treatment, Representatives Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) and Michael Turner (R-OH) renewed their call for Congress to pass their Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act. The bipartisan legislation would vastly increase access to life-saving addiction medicine by eliminating a duplicative bureaucratic hurdle—known as the “x-waiver”—currently blocking millions of highly-trained health professionals from prescribing buprenorphine to their patients.
“During yesterday’s State of the Union address, President Biden called for strong, bipartisan action in Congress to eliminate outdated barriers preventing health professionals from prescribing lifesaving addiction treatments,” Congressman Tonko said. “Our Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act directly addresses the President’s call by removing the needless red tape for buprenorphine and opening the doors of access to this lifesaving medication. I urge my colleagues and all of America’s champions for addiction treatment and recovery to take up our bipartisan call and help us push to deliver this legislation into law.”
“With over 75,000 opioid overdose deaths reported in America in FY21, granting better treatments for those addicted to opioids should be a top priority for every elected official,” said Rep. Turner. “Last night, the President called for meaningful action to address the disparity in treatments for those addicted to opioids. Thus, it is due time to pass the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act so we can provide physicians access to therapeutics like buprenorphine.”
“As a sister who lost my little brother to an overdose, I know firsthand how critical it is that families have access to treatment that can help our loved ones heal,” said Erin Schanning, president of End Substance Use Disorder, a national, non-partisan campaign committed to ending the overdose crisis. “Sadly, too many of our loved ones do not know about or have access to the most effective treatments for substance use disorder due to outdated federal laws that prevent health care providers from prescribing life-saving care. We are proud to stand with President Biden and the over 400 organizations across the country that have called for Congress to remove these unnecessary barriers to recovery. We are now looking to Congress to pass the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, a bipartisan, common-sense solution that will prevent overdoses, increase access to treatment, and reduce stigma. We are deeply grateful to Rep. Tonko and Rep. Turner for their steadfast leadership to protect our children, parents, brothers, and sisters from overdoses and to ensure that we all have the care we need to be well.”
The National Association of Attorneys General said, “In 2019, NAAG urged Congress to remove federal barriers preventing health care providers from offering buprenorphine, a life-saving treatment for opioid use disorder, as called for in the Mainstreaming Addiction Act (MAT Act). We applaud Congressmen Tonko and Turner for their leadership on this issue and, like President Biden, encourage Congress to pass the MAT Act this year.”
“As emergency physicians have faced the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also been on the frontlines of our nation’s accelerating opioid epidemic,” said Gillian Schmitz, MD, FACEP, President of ACEP. “Emergency physicians are grateful for President Biden’s call to fully eliminate unnecessary and outdated barriers that limit access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). We once again urge Congress to help emergency physicians provide this lifesaving treatment to more patients by passing the bipartisan Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act championed by Reps. Tonko and Turner as soon as possible. This legislation will save lives.”
“The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy applauds President Biden and his call to action to remove outdated federal requirements that limit access to life-saving treatments for opioid use disorder. We stand with Congressmen Tonko and Turner and encourage swift action by Congress to pass the MAT Act,” said Al Carter, Executive Director for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
The American Pharmacists Association said, “Greater access to buprenorphine for patients from a wider range of health care providers is essential to ensure that appropriate treatment is available to patients in communities across the country. The American Pharmacists Association appreciates the efforts of Reps Tonko and Turner and urges Congress to pass the MAT Act and eliminate barriers to care by pharmacists and other providers.”
The MAT Act has garnered the official support of the majority of members in the House of Representatives since its reintroduction last year. 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.