WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee today unanimously passed the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT Act), originally introduced by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA). The bipartisan TREAT Act would expand specialized treatment for prescription painkiller and heroin addiction.
As a physician by trade for over 20 years, Sen. Paul has been leading the fight to provide greater treatment opportunities for patients struggling with drug addiction by eliminating Washington’s overreaching and misguided restrictions on patients’ access to treatment. Specifically, the TREAT Act would expand the ability of addiction medical specialists and other trained medical professionals to provide life-saving medication-assisted therapies such as buprenorphine, also called Suboxone, for patients battling heroin and prescription painkiller addiction.
“I am encouraged today by the HELP Committee’s passage of the TREAT Act. All across Kentucky, I have heard time and time again from families and medical professionals how the federal government’s arbitrary patient caps are blocking access to effective and proven treatments for those who want help, and ultimately, harming both the addicted person and their loved ones. The TREAT Act will remove a roadblock to getting people the help they need to break the cycle of addition and get on a path to recovery,” said Senator Paul.
“We need to remove the barriers to effective treatment for opioid addiction, including outdated federal restrictions on medication-assisted therapies like buprenorphine. Unlike any other treatment regimen for any other disease, physicians are severely limited in the number of patients they can treat with medication-assisted therapies, contributing to long waitlists and the inability of patients to get treatment for their addiction when they need it. Approximately 2.5 million Americans who abused or were dependent on opioids in 2012, fewer than one million received treatment for their condition, partly because of these misguided federal restrictions. If we are going to reduce the supply for heroin and illicit prescription drugs we have to reduce the demand through treatment. I thank Senator Paul for his partnership on this effort, and I urge Senate leadership to bring this important legislation to the floor for a full Senate vote,” Senator Markey said.
Click HERE to read the TREAT Act in its entirety. Top-line bullet points and background information on the TREAT Act amendment can be found below.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE TREAT ACT
- Expands the maximum allowable patient cap from 100 to 500 maximum patients.
- Changes the initial (first year) allowable patient load under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) from 30 to 100, and after one year a physician may request to treat up to 500 patients.
- Allows certain physicians, after one year, to request to treat up to 500 patients. To be eligible:
- Physicians must be substance abuse treatment specialists, as recognized by specific board or society certifications, or
- Non-specialist physicians must complete 24 hours of approved training.
- Physicians must also maintain records about whether they provide counseling services on site or refer patients elsewhere for such services, and how frequently such patients use those services, and the frequency with which patients terminate treatment against medical advice.
- Provides states the flexibility to set the patient cap for their state at higher or lower than the cap under the CSA (but no lower than 30 patients and no more than 500). States may also set requirements about the types of facilities or practice settings physicians can use to treat addiction patients, required education, or reporting requirements.
- Allows nurse practitioners (NPs) and physicians assistants (PAs) to be able to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid addiction for the first time. NPs and PAs would be qualified to treat up to 100 patients if they complete 24 hours of education on the treatment of addiction patients.
- Requires HHS, after 2 years, and GAO, after 4 years, to issue reports to Congress about the effect of this legislation in terms of availability of treatment, quality of treatment programs, integration with other health care services, diversion, state-level policies, and use of nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants to provide this treatment.