Senators Markey and Paul Query HHS on Efforts to Implement Expansion of Medication-Assisted Therapies for Opioid Addiction

12 million Americans misuse opioids, but only one in five with an opioid disorder receive treatment


Washington (February 1Y, 2018) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), co-authors of the provision in the law to expand medication-assisted therapies (MAT) for opioid addiction, today wrote a letter to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) asking about the implementation and effectiveness of provisions meant to expand access to these life-saving treatments. In their letter, the Senators inquire about how effective recent efforts have been at expanding access to treatment and recovery and inquire about the challenges that exist for getting people medication-assisted treatment. In 2016, Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) which included Senators Markey and Paul’s provision that would allow trained nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide, for the first time, MAT for opioid use disorders. Additionally, in 2016 the Obama administration responded to requests by Senators Markey, Paul and other lawmakers by finalizing a rulemaking changing the maximum number of patients certain specialized physicians can treat with MAT from 100 to 275.


“Together these changes aimed to expand the availability of this important tool and put it in the hands of qualified medical professionals to help increase points of entry for treatment, reduce waitlists and offer hope to patients suffering from opioid use disorder,” write the Senators in their letter to Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Elinore McCance-Katz. “MAT is one of the most cost-effective and efficient methods of treatment for substance use disorders.”


A copy of the letter can be found HERE.


To build on continued efforts, Senators Markey, Paul, Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine.) recently introduced the “Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act”, legislation to expand access to MAT by codifying the Obama administration’s 2016 regulation. The legislation would also expand the types of professionals who are able to prescribe MAT for opioid addiction.