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ASAM Board Member Testifies Before Congressional Opioid Task Force

July 23, 2019

On Tuesday, July 23, Margaret A. E. Jarvis, MD, DFASAM, Board Member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, testified before the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force at a roundtable on the third wave of the opioid epidemic.

The proliferation of fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, and other synthetic opioids have created a third wave of mortality and has turned an already alarming heroin and opioid crisis into one of the deadliest public health emergencies in United States history.

In her testimony, Dr. Jarvis focused on two themes: (1) the need for a far greater financial investment in demand-reduction interventions that evidence shows will have the most impact to save lives; and (2) the need for bold policy changes that meet the scale of the opioid crisis and rapidly mainstream evidence-based addiction prevention and treatment across America.

Dr. Jarvis emphasized the need to strengthen the substance use disorder workforce. She lauded the House of Representatives for including full funding in the House Labor-HHS bill for two key workforce programs: the SUPPORT Act’s SUD Loan Repayment Program and the CURES Act’s training demonstration program. In addition, Dr. Jarvis urged Congress to pass the Opioid Workforce Act, which would help address the national shortage of addiction physician specialists by increasing the number of resident physician positions available in hospitals that either have or are developing residency programs in addiction psychiatry or addiction medicine or pain medicine. ASAM, AAAP, and ACAAM issued a joint press release in June praising the House Committee on Ways & Means for advancing the bipartisan legislation.

Second, Dr. Jarvis urged the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to hold a hearing on the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act of 2019. This legislation would authorize $100 billion over the next decade to support evidence-based addiction treatment services. Dr. Jarvis highlighted how this legislation would direct the Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with ASAM, to develop model licensure standards for the regulation of addiction treatment programs based on nationally recognized levels of care. ASAM endorsed the CARE Act of 2019 shortly after it was introduced in May.

Lastly, Dr. Jarvis announced ASAM’s conditional endorsement of The Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, introduced by Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY). This legislation would eliminate the separate DEA waiver to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of addiction. ASAM’s endorsement of the bill is conditioned on the inclusion of additional provisions that would (1) eliminate DEA regulations on medications in Schedules III-V that are based on the prescribing intent to treat addiction, including ending related routine DEA audits, and (2) require all DEA controlled substance prescribers to complete medical education on addiction. Dr. Jarvis further explains that an effective way to accomplish the educational goal would be to transfer the training requirement from the X- waiver to the DEA controlled substance license and include new provisions that would allow accredited schools of medicine, advanced practice nursing, and physician assistants, as well as residency programs, to embed such training in their curricula. This would provide a glide path for phasing out the need for any separate, federally mandated addiction education course for these future practitioners.

Read the full testimony here.