Senator Collins Signs Bipartisan Letter Urging DHHS to Increase Access to Opioid Addiction Treatment

The group of 22 Senators called on the Department to raise the cap on prescribing buprenorphine to 500 patients

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins joined a bipartisan group of 22 Senators in writing to Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), to urge DHHS to allow for greater access to medication assisted treatment (MAT) in the Department’s proposed rule on the topic published on March 30, 2016.  
 
The proposed rule on MAT would increase the highest limit on the number of patients waivered practitioners can treat with buprenorphine from 100 patients per practitioner to 200 patients.  However, in recognition of the large gap between those with opioid use disorders and those receiving treatment for their illness, and the huge disparity that exists between those who can prescribe opioids for treatment of pain and those who can prescribe treatments for opioid use disorders, the Senate is advancing legislation supported by Senator Collins that would raise this patient cap to 500 patients.  The letter sent by the group of Senators urges DHHS to take into account the bipartisan work done by the Senate on this legislation, S. 1455, the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT) Act, when finalizing their proposed rule.
 
“Numerous studies have shown that MAT is cost effective and reduces drug use, disease rates, overdose risk, and criminal activity among opioid addicted persons,” said Senator Collins.  “Unfortunately, the use of MAT is highly controlled, and current law arbitrarily caps the number of addicted patients a physician can treat at any one time.  Raising this cap would allow physicians to treat more patients, thereby improving and increasing access to quality and comprehensive opioid treatment programs.”
 
A copy of the letter can be found here.
 
The letter to HHS was signed by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), , Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).