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March 26, 2021

Trone leads reintroduction of bill to tackle root causes of addiction crisis

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. David Trone, D-Md., has announced that he reintroduced the bipartisan Medication Access and Training Expansion Act, along with Reps. Lori Trahan, D-Mass.; Buddy Carter, R-Ga.; Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H.; and David P. McKinley, R-W.Va.

The legislation would implement a standard for substance use disorder training to require prescribers of highly addictive medications to have baseline knowledge in evidence-based addiction prevention and treatment. The group previously introduced this legislation in the 116h Congress.

“As we continue to lose thousands of Americans to drug overdoses, our focus must be on both treating addiction and preventing it from happening in the first place,” said Trone, co-chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force. “The MATE Act will ensure that all prescribers are fully educated on addiction treatment and prevention and can help save lives.”

Specifically, the bipartisan legislation would:

— Create a one-time, non-repetitive requirement for all DEA controlled substance prescribers (Schedule II, III, IV or V) to complete training on treating and managing patients with opioid and other substance use disorders, unless the prescriber is otherwise qualified.

— Allow accredited medical schools and residency programs, physician assistant schools, and schools of advanced practice nursing to fulfill the training requirement through comprehensive curriculum that meets the standards laid out in statute, without having to coordinate the development of their education with an outside medical society or state licensing body.

— Normalize addiction medicine education across certain professional schools and phase out the need for these future practitioners to take a separate, federally mandated addiction course.

— Authorize the federal government to appropriate grants to schools and medical programs to develop the curricula used to train prescribers on how to best identify and treat SUDs.

The MATE Act is endorsed by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, Shatterproof, Live4Lali, The Kennedy Forum, Well Being Trust, National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, SMART Recovery, American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine, Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, American College of Medical Toxicology, National Council for Behavioral Health, American College of Clinical Pharmacy, Faces & Voices of Recovery, Young People in Recovery, National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery, National Safety Council, and American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry.

“We must address the barriers that prevent far too many Americans from accessing evidence-based care for addiction. It is time to mainstream addiction medicine education throughout the medical community and medical professional schools,” said Paul H. Earley, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. “ASAM has long stood for normalizing the treatment of addiction, and we see a future where addiction prevention, treatment, remission and recovery are accessible to all, and profoundly improve the health of individuals at-risk of, and living with, addiction.”

“Our nation’s overdose crisis is having a devastating impact on communities and the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled overdoses and overdose deaths. The MATE Act boldly proclaims that all prescribers have a role to play in preventing, treating, and managing substance use disorders. For our nation to be truly healthy, we must understand substance use and treat it like every other medical condition. This legislation will help ensure that every American has access to lifesaving services when and where they need them.” Chuck Ingoglia, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health.

“Tens of thousands of Americans are needlessly dying each year from opioid overdoses because federal law has limited access to medication assisted treatment, the gold standard of care. The MATE Act represents a major step forward in preventing such tragic deaths by dramatically expanding the number of medical providers who will have the knowledge necessary to prescribe life-saving medications,” said former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, founder of the Kennedy Forum.

“The MATE Act represents an important step forward to increase access to treatment, reduce stigma and increase education as the prevalence of substance use and substance use disorders rises across the country,” said Lorraine Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “We applaud the introduction of this bipartisan bill to improve safety and look forward to working with Congress to help it become law.”

“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. 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,” said Gary Mendell, Shatterproof founder and CEO.

“The COVID pandemic has only underscored the urgent need for the expansion of medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorder. People are suffering, particularly our young people. It is essential that we provide access to evidence-based treatment whenever and wherever people need it—creating obstacles to care is costing lives, and devastating families who are desperate to find help for their loved ones,” said Ann Herbst, interim CEO of Young People in Recovery.