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ASAM Praises Inclusion of Key Provisions in the House-Passed Build Back Better Act; Urges Senate to Pass Them to Expand Access to Addiction Treatment

by ASAM | Nov 19, 2021


Nation’s leading association of addiction medicine physicians and other clinicians commend inclusion of provisions that would improve equitable coverage and access to comprehensive addiction care, and reduce the shortages of, and strengthen, the addiction treatment workforce


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Rockville, MD – The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) today applauded the United States House of Representatives for passing key provisions in the Build Back Better Act (BBBA), which will help teach, standardize, and cover evidence-based addiction prevention and care across the country. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, these provisions would increase access to comprehensive, high-quality addiction care in ways that reduce racial, ethnic, and economic disparities, and make important investments in the addiction medicine workforce.


“This week the CDC announced drug overdose deaths surpassed 100,000 in a 12-month period – a grim record, which only underscores the urgent need to allocate resources and implement reforms that are commensurate with the scale of this crisis,” said William F. Haning, III, MD, DLFAPA, DFASAM, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. “Now is the time for bold action that will save lives and address long-standing disparities in access to addiction care. We commend House lawmakers for passing key provisions in the Build Back Better Act and urge the Senate to pass them.”


The Build Back Better Act passed by the House today contains an array of provisions that would reduce racial, ethnic, and economic disparities by improving equitable coverage and access to comprehensive, high-quality addiction care. For example, it contains provisions from the Medicaid Reentry Act, which would provide Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage for individuals involved with the criminal legal system 30 days prior to their release.   This would help ensure continuity of care for addiction and other treatment upon their return to the community and reduce overdose deaths, which far too often happen right after release.  Another provision in the BBBA would help enforce insurance coverage parity for mental health and addiction treatment by authorizing civil monetary penalties for group health plan sponsors, plan administrators, and issuers that violate the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.


Other key provisions that would expand access to comprehensive, high-quality addiction care include:

  • Improving Medicaid/CHIP coverage for children and postpartum women;
  • Enhancing Marketplace cost-sharing assistance to individuals with household incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level and who do not qualify for government sponsored insurance;
  • Expanding health insurance premium tax credits for certain populations with low-income;
  • Increasing the Medicaid expansion Federal Medical Assistance Percentage;
  • Incentivizing states to provide Medicaid coverage for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics; and
  • Providing funds to help states establish a state reinsurance program or provide financial assistance to reduce out-of-pocket costs.


The BBBA also includes important provisions that can strengthen and diversify the addiction medicine workforce. Specifically, it would establish Rural and Underserved Pathway to Practice Training Programs.  This would award 1,000 scholarships per year for students from underrepresented groups to attend post-baccalaureate programs and medical schools.  It would also make critical investments in Graduate Medical Education (GME) by allowing teaching hospitals to train these graduates and excluding them from the residency slot cap; those hospitals must be recognized for training physicians with increased mentorship, structural and cultural competency training, and training in the community.  The BBBA would also invest in 4,000 additional Medicare-supported residency positions and provide over $3.3 billion to teaching health centers that operate GME programs. In addition, the legislation would provide $50 million for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s Minority Fellowship Program, $75 million for growing and diversifying the maternal mental health and substance use disorder treatment workforce, and $100 million for addressing maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders, with an emphasis on areas with significant racial, ethnic and other disparities in maternal health outcomes.


“These key provisions in the House-passed Build Back Better Act are critical to ensuring individuals living with substance use disorder can timely get the treatment they need – and deserve,” said Dr. Haning. “Given the urgency and magnitude of the addiction and overdose crisis, it is imperative that Senate leaders maintain these key provisions and move swiftly to pass them.”

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Rebecca Reid


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