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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

New House Bill Aims to Curb Youth Opioid Use

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Earlier this month, Congresswomen Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-IN) introduced legislation to help youth with opioid use disorders connect to addiction treatment services.  The Youth Opioid Use Treatment Help Act (H.R. 5956) or YOUTH Act authorizes $5 million in grants for medication assisted treatment (MAT) programs that serve children, adolescents, and young adults, and includes “young adults” as eligible recipients of youth substance use services under the Public Health Service Act.

Community addiction treatment providers are among the eligible recipients of the MAT grants and could use the funds to support youth-serving MAT programs for up to three years. Providers would need to submit a grant application to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the funds.  After the completion of the programs, the HHS Secretary must report to Congress on the programs’ effectiveness and evaluate any unintended consequences of the programs (such as abuse or diversion).

The bill also requires that U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study the current federal response to youth substance abuse by evaluating existing federal programs and research addressing substance use among young people and identify any gaps in available resources.