Partnership to End Addiction celebrates life-saving addiction provisions in the omnibus bill
Partnership to End Addiction applauds Congress for including several addiction-related provisions in its end-of-year omnibus spending bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023. While there is much work to be done to address our nation’s enduring addiction crisis, the provisions included in this law represent meaningful progress in the way our country addresses addiction and will help millions of families impacted by addiction.
Notably, the Consolidated Appropriations Act includes a critical provision that requires addiction training and education for health care professionals who prescribe controlled substances. Nearly a decade ago, in our seminal report, Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap Between Science and Practice, we found that most medical professionals are not sufficiently trained to diagnose or treat addiction; we recommended education and training in the basics of addiction for all health care professionals. Training health professionals to identify, treat and manage substance use disorder will help to expand the workforce and availability of treatment, increase adherence to evidence-based practices, and subject addiction treatment to the mainstream health care system’s regulatory oversight and quality standards. While this change will not happen overnight, and provider training alone will not achieve full integration of addiction treatment with the mainstream health care system, it is an essential step toward effectively addressing the addiction crisis. We celebrate Congress’ action to ensure our health care system will be better equipped to prevent, identify, treat and manage addiction.
We also applaud Congress for eliminating the buprenorphine prescribing waiver, a federal law that required providers to obtain special permission to prescribe an FDA-approved medication for the treatment of opioid use disorder. We have long advocated for the removal of this requirement, as it created a barrier to care and stigmatized a life-saving treatment for opioid use disorder. We understand that eliminating the waiver requirement alone is insufficient to increase access to buprenorphine and other effective substance use disorder care, and recognize that other policy changes, such as adequate reimbursement for substance use disorder treatment, are critical for increasing treatment access. Nevertheless, we think this is a critical step toward removing an unnecessary barrier to effective treatment for opioid use disorder.
We are grateful to Congress for including several other important addiction-related provisions in the omnibus bill, including provisions to strengthen the Parity Act; reauthorize critical behavioral health programs and funding; improve prevention; support crisis response services; remove barriers and expand access to treatment (including for pregnant and post-partum women); support recovery housing; increase the availability of non-opioid pain medications; and strengthen youth mental health services.
We would also like to thank our network of family advocates in all 50 states and 99 percent of Congressional districts, who worked tirelessly to make their voices heard and let their members of Congress know they supported these important addiction-related priorities.
We look forward to continuing to work with Congress and other policymakers to continue to transform how our nation addresses addiction and better support families impacted by this disease.