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Groups See Proposed Bill as Major Boost to Addiction Workforce

November 05, 2019

Several provider and advocacy organizations in the substance use arena are strongly backing proposed federal legislation that would standardize physician training in managing substance use disorders. The bill (HR 4974), introduced by U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), would require all prescribers of controlled substances to receive one-time training in treating patients with substance use disorders.

The Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act includes a provision stating that the mandated training would satisfy the training requirement for the prescribing of buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD).

Among the groups that signed on to a Nov. 1 news release in support of the MATE Act are the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), the National Council for Behavioral Health, Shatterproof, SMART Recovery and Faces & Voices of Recovery.

“To shatter the stigma surrounding addiction, we must equip medical professionals across the healthcare continuum to understand and treat addiction—and that starts with standardizing and expanding medication access and training,” the organizations wrote in the statement.

“We were excited to sign on with so many of our colleagues to support the MATE Act because we recognize that the stigma associated with substance use disorders not only creates discrimination against those afflicted, but also marginalizes those who provide prevention, treatment and recovery services,” Jeffrey Quamme, executive director of the Connecticut Certification Board, tells Addiction Professional.

Quamme adds, “We have worked with organizations across the country to educate (non-prescribing) clinical providers on best practices for medication-assisted treatment since 2009, and the MATE Act will, if passed, provide the same for prescribers.”

Direct path for schools

The proposed legislation would allow accredited medical schools and other training institutions to create a curriculum that meets standards specified in the law, avoiding the need to coordinate this activity with an outside medical society or state licensing authority.

“This will help normalize addiction medicine education across professional schools and phase out the need for these future practitioners to take a separate, federally mandated addiction treatment course,” the news release states.

Other lead sponsors of the House legislation include Democratic Reps. David Trone of Maryland and Ann Kuster of New Hampshire and Republican Reps. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, Jack Bergman of Michigan and Buddy Carter of Georgia.

Shawn Ryan, MD, FASAM, who chairs ASAM's Legislative Advocacy Committee, added in comments to Addiction Professional, “According to one recent survey, three out of four healthcare providers never received training on addiction during their medical education. As communities across the U.S. grapple with addiction and record levels of overdose deaths, policymakers must work to standardize and mainstream access to addiction treatment.”

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