ASAM Advocates for Reducing Barriers to Addiction Care in the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022
On May 10th, ASAM sent a letter to leadership of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce on H.R. 7666 - the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022 (the “Act”), in advance of the Subcommittee on Health’s legislative mark-up session on May 11th. In its letter, ASAM advocates for reducing complex barriers to addiction treatment, including eliminating the one-year requirement that an individual have an addiction to opioids to begin methadone treatment at an opioid treatment program (OTP), supporting provisions inspired by the Opioid Treatment Access Act (OTAA) - including revising who can determine the stability of a patient for take-home’s to include “a medical practitioner appropriately licensed by the State to prescribe or dispense controlled medications,” - and codifying recent mobile methadone regulations into law. In its letter, ASAM also advocates for increased funding to support HRSA’s Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program; adding “addiction medicine” to SAMHSA’s Minority Fellowship Program grants, and adding “addiction specialists” to HRSA’s Pediatric Mental Health Care Access grants. The letter concludes with a call for adding the MATE and MAT Acts to the Act. The MATE Act would condition the federal DEA registration to prescribe controlled medications on a one-time, flexible education requirement on the treatment of patients with substance use disorder. The MAT Act would eliminate the DATA 2000-waiver, a barrier to broader uptake of treatment for OUD with buprenorphine, a life-saving medication.
Attached as an exhibit to ASAM’s letter is a separate letter sent by ASAM and the National Association for Medication Assisted Recovery (NAMA Recovery) calling for the addition of Section 4 of the OTAA to the Act. Inclusion of said Section 4 would expand access to methadone treatment by allowing certain specially registered prescribers, including addiction specialist physicians, to prescribe up to a one-month supply of methadone for OUD to be dispensed from a pharmacy, subject to SAMHSA’s “time in treatment” regulations and guidance. ASAM and NAMA Recovery cite the catastrophic impact of fentanyl in an adulterated drug supply, the national opioid public health emergency, and the historical evidence base that supports the beneficence of clinical decision making in methadone treatment for OUD as just some of the reasons justifying Section 4’s inclusion in the Act.
The Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce will meet in a hybrid open markup session on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, at 10:15 a.m., which can be watched here.