FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 29, 2019) – The National Council for Behavioral Health Board of Directors has determined to support the bipartisan Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act (H.R. 2482), authored by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Mike Turner (R-Ohio).
The MAT Act removes the DATA-2000 waiver requirement for health care providers to prescribe buprenorphine. The bill also requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a national campaign to educate practitioners about the changes and encourage providers to integrate substance use treatment into their practices.
The National Council Board supports this bill’s efforts to remove a major hurdle to prescribing buprenorphine, thereby increasing the number of providers able to provide medication-assisted treatment. Waiver requirements do not exist for clinicians licensed to prescribe opiates or other addiction and mental health medications.
Removing the burdensome waiver requirement for buprenorphine would have an especially great impact in rural areas where access to medication-assisted treatment is currently extremely low and there are few waivered providers to provide access to this evidence-based treatment. Recent studies have also called attention to distressing disparities in access to buprenorphine in minority communities, an issue that this bill has the potential to address by removing barriers to providers that serve diverse populations.
The National Council has long recognized that there are multiple paths to recovery and person-centered treatment allowing patients access to all forms of medication-assisted treatment is essential. While medication coupled with psychosocial supports is often considered the best model of care, access to medication alone can keep patients alive until they are ready to change treatment.
In conjunction with lifting the DATA 2000 waiver requirement, the National Council Board strongly supports efforts to ensure providers are adequately trained on how to prescribe buprenorphine and medication-assisted treatment. The National Council will work with Rep. Tonko and his colleagues to advance these educational and training efforts.
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We thank Rep. Tonko for his efforts and welcome any feedback from our members regarding the MAT Act. Stay tuned to the National Council’s Capitol Connector for updates and additional opportunities to get involved.
The National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America’s health care organizations that deliver mental health and addictions treatment and services. Together with our 3,000 member organizations serving over 10 million adults, children and families living with mental illnesses and addictions, the National Council is committed to all Americans having access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery. The National Council introduced Mental Health First Aid USA and more than 1.7 million Americans have been trained.