NAMI Applauds Passage of Opioid Bill, but Calls for More Action
NAMI is encouraged that Congress passed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, a bipartisan bill to address the nation’s opioid crisis. This bill contains a mix of law enforcement and public health measures that make critical investments towards tackling the opioid epidemic in America.
We are particularly pleased and applaud Congress for including the following provisions:
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), an evidence-based intervention for those with opioid use disorders;
- Increased access to telehealth services for individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use conditions;
- Requiring state Medicaid programs to report on behavioral health quality measures and to ensure continuity of care and stabilization when juveniles reenter the community;
- Loan repayment programs to increase providers in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs);
- Pilot program to provide stable, temporary housing for individuals in recovery; and
- Adoption and use of electronic health records (EHRs) to improve quality and coordination of care.
However, there are areas where Congress could have done more to help address the root causes of addiction, including mental health issues. NAMI is disappointed Congress did not include a proposed provision to modernize 42 CFR Part 2, an outdated federal regulation that treats substance use information differently than other health information. By eliminating this provision, Congress continues a history of unequal treatment of substance use information that results in fatal consequences for vulnerable individuals who are in recovery. We will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to ensure all health information is treated equally.
We believe that the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Actwill make a positive impact on access to care for individuals experiencing substance abuse and mental health conditions. As stated by the Republican and Democratic committee leaders, “While there is more work to be done, this bipartisan legislation takes an important step forward and will save lives.”