ASAM Praises Congress for Passing Vital Provisions in End-of-Year Legislation that Will Increase Access to Addiction Care and Save Lives
Nation’s leading association of addiction medicine physicians and other clinicians commend the inclusion of provisions to expand access to addiction care in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023
Rockville, MD – The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) today commended Congress for including several key provisions in an end-of-year legislative package that will strengthen the nation’s addiction treatment infrastructure. Once signed into law by President Biden, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, as amended, will help improve Americans’ access to evidence-based addiction treatment and related support services at a time when overdose deaths are near record highs.
“The addiction and overdose crisis has accelerated in recent years, and bold, comprehensive measures are required to save lives,” said William F. Haning, III, MD, DLFAPA, DFASAM, president of ASAM. “Removing barriers to addiction care and expanding education for treating addiction are critical to expanding access to treatment. ASAM appreciates Congress’ leadership in eliminating some obstacles that are deadly for far too many Americans. With hundreds of thousands of lives on the line, this legislation comes at a critically important time.”
Key health provisions that will help increase access to addiction treatment and related support services include:
- eliminating the “X-waiver” to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (and associated patient limits), as called for by the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act;
- requiring controlled medication prescribers to receive education on treating and managing patients with substance use disorder, as called for by the Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act;
- appropriating $40,000,000 for Fiscal Year 2023 for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)’s Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery (STAR) Loan Repayment Program;
- appropriating $25,000,000 for Fiscal Year 2023 for HRSA’s Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program to foster robust community-based clinical training of addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry physicians in underserved, community-based settings;
- reauthorizing HRSA’s Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program through 2027;
- reauthorizing a grant program for screening, assessing, and treating maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders, as well as continued funding of the Maternal Mental Health Hotline;
- authorizing $10,000,000 in grants for each of the first five fiscal years beginning after the date of enactment to support mental health and substance use disorder parity implementation;
- codifying regulations that allow opioid treatment programs (OTPs) to operate mobile medication components without separate DEA registrations, as called for by the Opioid Treatment Access Act;
- extending mental health and addiction parity requirements to nonfederal governmental health plans;
- authorizing $60,000,000 in grants for each of fiscal years 2023 through 2027 to improve uptake and patient access to integrated care services, including the psychiatric collaborative care model;
- extending critical Medicare telehealth flexibilities started during the COVID-19 public health emergency (including delaying the in-person requirements for telemental health services) through December 31, 2024;
- providing for the distribution of 200 additional Medicare-funded graduate medical education (GME) residency positions for Fiscal Year 2026, with 100 of those positions set aside for psychiatry or psychiatry subspecialtyresidencies;
- revising Medicare’s partial hospitalization benefit beginning on January 1, 2024 to provide coverage of intensive outpatient services;
- directing the Comptroller of the United States to conduct a study to compare the mental health and substance use disorder benefits offered by Medicare Advantage plans to traditional Medicare and to other benefits offered by Medicare Advantage plans;
- directing the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a review on whether to establish a safe harbor related to the federal anti-kickback statute for evidence-based contingency management incentives for the treatment of substance use disorder and the parameters for such a safe harbor, followed by recommendations to Congress for improving access to evidence-based contingency management interventions while ensuring quality of care;
- establishing Medicare Part B coverage for services rendered by marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors beginning on January 1, 2024, and removing regulatory barriers that prevent physicians who are employed by a hospital from accessing mental health/substance use disorder programs offered by said hospital;
- facilitating consensus-based best practices, which may include model laws for implementing suggested minimum standards for operating, and promoting the availability of, high-quality recovery housing;
- making permanent the option for states to offer 12 months of postpartum Medicaid coverage; and
- amending the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy to allow otherwise eligible juveniles to continue receiving Medicaid-funded health care while awaiting trial, at the option of the State.
A summary of the appropriations provisions in the bill is here. The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies subcommittee summary, fact sheet, and explanatory statement can be found here: Summary, Fact Sheet, and Explanatory Statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that there were 107,735 drug overdose deaths between July 2021 and July 2022, the latest statistics available. In addition to the heartbreaking loss of human life, the opioid addiction and overdose crisis has cost the United States $1.5 trillion in 2020 alone, according to a September reportpublished by the U.S. Congress’ Joint Economic Committee. With over 41.1 million Americans aged 12 or older needing substance use treatment in the past year, yet only a relatively small percentage of adolescents and adults with substance use disorder (6.5%) receiving any substance use treatment, there is an urgent need to for the bipartisan legislation passed today.
ASAM looks forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration and the 118th Congress on expanding today’s progress, including new efforts designed to strengthen the addiction treatment workforce, close the Medicare coverage gap for residential substance use disorder services, and responsibly increase access to methadone treatment for opioid use disorder.
About the American Society of Addiction Medicine
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), founded in 1954, is a professional medical society representing over 7,000 physicians, clinicians, and associated professionals in the field of addiction medicine. ASAM is dedicated to increasing access and improving the quality of addiction treatment, educating physicians and the public, supporting research and prevention, and promoting the appropriate role of physicians in the care of patients with addiction. For more information, visit www.ASAM.org.
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