Washington, D.C. - Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) today introduced the “Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act,” legislation that will expand access to medication-assisted therapies for opioid addiction. The legislation codifies a 2016 regulation that expanded the number of patients qualified physicians could treat with life-saving medication-assisted therapies such as buprenorphine (also called Suboxone) from 100 to 275.
Additionally, the legislation builds upon a pilot program established in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), legislation Senator Collins championed that was signed into law in 2016, allowing non-physician qualified health practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine, making this authorization permanent and expanding the types of professionals who qualify. More than 42,000 Americans died of an opioid overdose in 2016.
“Medication-assisted therapies are cost effective and have been proven to reduce drug use, disease rates, overdose risk, and criminal activity among opioid addicted persons,” said Senator Collins. “By raising the cap on the number of patients a physician can treat for addiction, our bipartisan legislation would improve access to quality and comprehensive opioid abuse programs.”
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
The legislation is supported by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Nurses Association, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Academy of Physician Assistants, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.
“The American Society of Addiction Medicine is grateful to Senators Markey, Paul, Hassan and Collins for their leadership in crafting smart addiction treatment policy, and we are pleased to endorse this bill,” said American Society of Addiction Medicine President Kelly Clark, MD, MBA, DFASAM. “Solidifying into law the recent gains we’ve made in treatment access, and ending arbitrary time for healthcare providers to treat patients, will ensure that we can continue to improve access for evidence based care. Although physicians are providing more addiction treatment than ever before, expanding the addiction treatment workforce to include all advance practice registered nurses is urgently needed to address access challenges and provider shortages due to the magnitude of this epidemic. We look forward to seeing this bill become law.”
In 2016, Senator Collins joined a bipartisan group of 22 Senators in writing to then-Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Sylvia Burwell to urge DHHS to allow for greater access to medication-assisted treatment in the Department’s proposed rule on the topic published on March 30, 2016.