Bipartisan Bill Would Standardize Opioid Addiction Treatment and Training for Health Care Providers
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act, common-sense legislation that would require physicians, physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, and other providers to complete an opioid and substance use training to ensure that prescribers of controlled medication, like opioids, have foundational knowledge of addiction prevention, treatment, and management.
Over 20 million adults in the United States live with an opioid use or substance use disorder, with over half a million adults misusing prescription pain relievers. After a slight decrease in deaths due to drug overdose in 2018, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) found that 2019 showed a 9% increase in fatal drug overdoses. Experts at CDPHE are expecting even higher rates for 2020 that will be worsened by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Lack of education and training for health care providers will only exacerbate the problem. The MATE Act would help address the addiction crisis by standardizing opioid and substance use training and ensuring that all prescribers receive evidence-based addiction prevention training.
“While our country grapples with the coronavirus, another epidemic has continued to rage. Across Colorado and the country, opioid use and other substance use disorders continue to devastate families and communities,” said Bennet. “We must fight this crisis from every angle, which includes addressing the stigma of addiction that persists even within the medical community. The MATE Act will better equip our health care system to identify, treat, and prevent addiction, as well as improve pain management, by educating providers, addressing racial bias, and standardizing training nationwide.”
“As the nation continues to combat COVID-19, we must not forget another public health emergency our country faces—the opioid epidemic. No community is immune from this crisis, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19 and has already claimed the life of more than one Mainer per day last year,” said Collins. “Our bipartisan bill would ensure that all health care professionals who prescribe controlled substances are also equipped with the tools and training they need to prevent, identify, and treat addiction. The opioid crisis requires an all-of-the-above approach, but increased access to evidence-based addiction prevention and treatment is a critical component of supporting those in need and ultimately tackling this crisis.”
“With a record number of Americans dying from drug overdoses last year – and reports of major spikes across the country – it’s clear that the medical community must do more to identify and treat individuals living with addiction,” said Paul H. Earley, MD, DFASAM, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. “By requiring all registered prescribers of controlled substances to undergo a one-time, universal training in addiction medicine, the bipartisan MATE Act will empower them to deliver evidence-based treatment and save lives. We commend Senators Bennet and Collins for their leadership and urge the Senate to pass this critical piece of legislation.”
“We cannot effectively end our nation’s addiction crisis without training health care providers to prevent, identify, treat and manage addiction like any other chronic condition,” said Marcia Lee Taylor, Chief External and Government Relations Officer of Partnership to End Addiction. “Requiring prescribers to know how to address substance use disorders will help reduce unnecessary prescriptions and allow them to provide better care for their patients.”
“To reverse the addiction crisis, all medical professionals must have a baseline knowledge of how to prevent addiction and how to identify, treat, and manage patients who have substance use disorders,” said Gary Mendell, Shatterproof Founder and CEO. “This is critical to breaking down addiction-related stigma that often is an impediment to treatment and recovery. This legislation is a scalable and strategic way to achieve these goals. I urge Congress to advance this legislation as soon as possible.”
The legislation is endorsed by American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), The Kennedy Forum, Shatterproof, Partnership to End Addiction, SMART Recovery, National Hispanic Medical Association, and the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers.
Companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives was introduced in November 2019 by U.S. Representatives Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) and Jack Bergman (R-Mich.).
The Medication Access and Training Expansion Act would:
- Require all federally controlled substance prescribers (Schedule II, III, IV or V) complete a one-time training on treating and managing patients with opioid and other substance use disorders, unless otherwise qualified, significantly increasing the number of medical practitioners with a fundamental knowledge of how to prevent, identify, and treat patients with substance use disorder and manage those with chronic pain.
- Encourage accredited medical schools, residency programs, physician assistant schools, and schools of advanced practice nursing to integrate the study of substance use disorders and treatment into their curriculum, normalizing addiction medicine education across most professional schools.
- Support the inclusion of bias and anti-racism training within training programs to reduce racial and ethnic disparities.
- Satisfy the DATA 2000 X-waiver training requirement needed to prescribe addiction medications like buprenorphine.
The bill text is available HERE.