WASHINGTON, D.C. ― It was announced Tuesday that U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján’s (D-NM) bipartisan addiction treatment bill, H.R. 3692: Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act, was included in the final opioid package agreement that was negotiated between the House and Senate.
In the Senate, companion legislation was led by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Susan Collins (R-ME).
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko
“When an individual in the throes of addiction reaches out for help, we need a treatment system that is ready to assist,” Tonko said. “Unfortunately, because of outdated laws that have artificially constrained treatment capacity, instead of a helping hand individuals are met with a closed door and a months or even years long wait for treatment. This legislation sets us on a path towards a system of treatment on demand so that we can better assist those struggling with addiction when they have that moment of clarity. By expanding our addiction workforce to include nursing professionals and allowing health care providers the flexibility to treat more patients, we will truly make a difference in the lives of all who are touched by addiction. Finally, I want to thank my co-lead in this effort, Congressman Luján for his passion and leadership that helped to get this legislation across the finish line.”
“As a result of this legislation, more people suffering from opioid use disorder will be able to get the help they deserve,” Luján said. “Permanently allowing Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants to prescribe buprenorphine goes a long way in building out the specialty behavioral health workforce, especially in rural areas like New Mexico. I’m particularly glad to see additional advanced practice nurses, like Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, gain access to buprenorphine prescribing authority as well. Continuity of care is incredibly important to recovery. The TREAT Act helps ensure moms and families who are struggling with addiction have access to reliable health care providers within their communities, like midwives, so they can get treatment as quickly as possible. I’m grateful for Congressman Tonko’s leadership on this issue and pleased that this legislation is making important progress in Congress.”
H.R. 3692: the Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act empowers certain specializations of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to prescribe or dispense buprenorphine for treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD), and makes permanent existing levels of expanded treatment capacity for nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs). It also codifies the ability for qualified physicians to prescribe MAT for up to 275 patients and allows waivered practitioners to immediately treat 100 patients at a time if the practitioner is board certified in addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry or if the practitioner provides MAT in a qualified practice setting. The bill has received support from the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Nurses Association, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Academy of Physician Assistants, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.