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Tonko Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act to be Made Law

Lifesaving addiction legislation will remove outdated barrier blocking millions from treatment

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WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) cheered the inclusion of his bipartisan Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act in the federal funding package expected to be made law this week. The MAT Act eliminates the redundant requirement that practitioners apply for a separate waiver through the DEA to prescribe buprenorphine for substance use disorder treatment.

“The overdose crisis has touched so many of us and left countless communities across our nation irreparably damaged,” Congressman Tonko said. “For years, I’ve worked to address this disease of addiction and secure access to lifesaving treatments for the millions of Americans currently struggling. A lynchpin of my efforts has long been my MAT Act that would eliminate and outdated, bureaucratic barrier preventing practitioners from prescribing the proven treatment, buprenorphine, to their patients. After years working to pave a path forward for this lifesaving bill, it will finally be made law. My deepest gratitude to Congressman Turner for championing this bill alongside me, and thanks to my colleagues and the many dedicated advocates who have worked to get this legislation done.”

"The Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act is a beacon of hope to families and loved ones struggling with substance use disorder. This legislation will open the doors of recovery to millions of Americans by ensuring that those in need have access to life-saving treatment that prevents overdoses. The MAT Act represents a fundamental shift in how our country approaches substance use disorder. It will reduce stigma and integrate treatment into the health care system, where it belongs. We would not have the MAT Act without Rep. Tonko's tireless commitment to expand access to affordable, high-quality treatment. Thanks to Rep. Tonko, countless lives will be saved,” said Erin Schanning, president of End Substance Use Disorder and a big sister who lost her little brother, Ethan, to an overdose.

“The MAT Act has garnered broad support on Capitol Hill because it is commonsense and due to the efforts of tireless champions like Congressman Tonko. This bill will save lives, so we’re excited to see it included in the omnibus legislation. To end the overdose crisis, we need to ensure that effective, evidence-based treatment is available to all who want it,” said Libby Jones, Project Director of the Overdose Prevention Initiative at the Global Health Advocacy Incubator.

"Buprenorphine is a highly effective medication that can help people with opioid use disorder live normal, productive lives. Outdated restrictions have long made it difficult for health care providers to prescribe the medication and for patients to access it. The MAT Act will expand availability of evidence-based treatment during a critical time in the opioid crisis, and we applaud Congress for taking this much-needed step forward,” said Sheri Doyle, senior manager, Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Initiative, The Pew Charitable Trusts.

“We at People’s Action thank Rep. Paul Tonko for his steadfast leadership to see the MAT Act over the finish line. Rep. Tonko has been along with us every step of the way - from speaking at our events, to meeting with our cohort leaders, to fighting tooth and nail in the halls of congress. This victory proves the power of organizing people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities. Together we can end the overdose crisis,” said Ellen Glover Drug Policy, Harm Reduction & Criminal Justice campaign director at People’s Action.

"We are pleased to see the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act included in the FY 2023 omnibus spending bill. We applaud Representative Tonko for his steadfast leadership and urge Congress to pass this legislation that will expand access to lifesaving treatment and reduce stigma," said Maeghan Gilmore, Vice President, Government Affairs, Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness.

"Eliminating the 'X-waiver' is another critical step in combating our nation's opioid crisis, giving emergency physicians on the frontlines of this epidemic more opportunities to care for and treat those suffering from substance use disorders and, most importantly, help them on their path to recovery. This action by Congress was a welcome and needed next step to reducing stigma and breaking down some longstanding barriers for safer, effective, and commonsense opioid use disorder treatment. We are deeply grateful to Reps. Tonko and Turner for their outstanding and tireless bipartisan advocacy on this issue, and sincerely appreciate the opportunity to partner in this important effort, ” said Christopher S. Kang, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP

“On behalf of our nation’s pharmacists, we applaud Representative Tonko for his leadership in passing this important legislation, which is a common-sense solution that removes restrictions on prescribers of buprenorphine to allow health care providers, including many pharmacists, to have greater involvement in treating patients with opioid use disorder. This is a huge win for pharmacists and the patients we serve,” stated Ilisa Bernstein, PharmD, JD, FAPhA, interim executive vice president and CEO of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).

After France took similar action to make buprenorphine available without a specialized waiver, overdose deaths declined by 79 percent over a four-year period.

Tonko’s bipartisan Substance Use Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services Block Grant Act, which would reauthorize this crucial block grant for another five years, was also included as part of the omnibus package.

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