The National Council for Mental Wellbeing Board of Directors has determined to support the bipartisan Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act (H.R. 2482), which would expand access to medication-assisted treatment, the “gold standard” of addiction treatment when prescribed in conjunction with regular counseling. The National Council thanks the bill authors Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY), Antonio Delgado (D-NY), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Ted Budd (R-NC), Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Mike Turner (R-OH) for their work on this critical issue.
EXPANDING ACCESS TO TREATMENT
The MAT Act removes the DATA-2000 waiver requirement for health care providers to prescribe buprenorphine. The bill also requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a national campaign to educate practitioners about the changes and to encourage providers to integrate substance use treatment into their practices.
The National Council Board supports this bill’s efforts to remove a major hurdle to prescribing buprenorphine, thereby increasing the number of providers able to provide medication-assisted treatment. Waiver requirements do not exist for clinicians licensed to prescribe opiates or other addiction and mental health medications.
Removing the burdensome waiver requirement for buprenorphine would have an especially great impact in rural areas where access to medication-assisted treatment is currently extremely low, with very few waivered providers who can provide access to this evidence-based treatment. Recent studies have also called attention to distressing disparities in access to buprenorphine in minority communities, an issue that this bill has the potential to address by removing barriers to providers that serve diverse populations.
The National Council has long recognized that there are multiple paths to recovery and patients should have access to all forms of medication-assisted treatment and that treatment must always remain person-centered and respond to the individual’s needs and preferences. While medication coupled with psychosocial supports is often considered the best model of care, when individuals are not yet ready to accept such an approach, access to medication alone can keep them alive until they are ready to change treatment.
In conjunction with lifting the DATA 2000 waiver requirement, the National Council Board strongly supports efforts to ensure providers are adequately trained on how to prescribe buprenorphine and medication-assisted treatment. The National Council will work with Rep. Tonko and his colleagues to advance these educational and training efforts.
Help us advance access to medication-assisted treatment. Ask your members of Congress to sign on to this legislation or thank them for their support, if they have already signed on. Click here to take action.
We thank Rep. Tonko and the bill’s cosponsors for their efforts on this issue. Stay tuned to Capitol Connector for updates and additional opportunities to get involved.
Illinois Association for Behavioral Health