Press Releases

Congresswoman Lori Trahan Leads Bipartisan Introduction of Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act, Opioid Addiction Treatment and Training Legislation, With Representatives Bergman, Carter, Trone, Rogers, and Kuster

This legislation is endorsed by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, National Council for Behavioral Health, The Kennedy Forum, National Safety Council, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids + Center on Addiction, Shatterproof, SMART Recovery, Faces and Voices of Recovery, Young People in Recovery, CADA of Northwest Louisiana, and Connecticut Certification Board

Washington, November 1, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Lori Trahan (D-MA) introduced the bipartisan Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act [H.R. 4974] with her colleagues Representatives Jack Bergman (R-MI), Buddy Carter (R-GA), David Trone (D-MD), Hal Rogers (R-KY), and Annie Kuster (D-NH). The MATE Act would standardize substance use disorder training to ensure that all prescribers of controlled medications possess baseline knowledge in evidence-based addiction prevention and treatment.

“There is not a community in Massachusetts or the United States that is immune from substance use disorder - especially when it comes to the opioid crisis. We must take a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach that strengthens the infrastructure around prevention and treatment, said Congresswoman Trahan. “This starts with addressing stigma and lack of understanding on addiction which persist even within the medical community. By standardizing training, we can equip medical professionals across our health care system to prevent, identify, treat, and manage patients with opioid and other substance use disorders. The MATE Act is the effective way forward in ensuring that Americans access evidence-based care for this chronic, treatable disease.”

“The opioid crisis is one of the most devastating issues facing our nation today,” said Congressman Bergman. “In many cases, the opioid crisis has disproportionately affected rural communities like Michigan’s First Congressional District. Recognizing the terrible impact of this crisis, I made combatting the opioid epidemic one of my top legislative priorities. I believe this bill will have a strong impact by not only helping prescribers recognize signs of addiction, but also to keep new addictions from starting. The subject of addiction is very complicated, and requires a holistic response. The MATE Act is a step in the right direction along with the numerous bills I have supported to address the root causes of opioid addiction while also providing communities with the support they need to mitigate its effects.”

“As the only pharmacist currently serving in Congress, I’ve seen the plague of addiction first hand,” said Congressman Carter. “This bill is critical to ensure health care providers are equipped with the training they need to be able to treat substance use disorder. I’m glad to join this bipartisan group in the fight to end the opioid epidemic once and for all.”

“As the founder of the Freshmen Working Group on Addiction, I am thrilled to join Representative Trahan in introducing this commonsense bill,” said Congressman Trone. “The MATE Act will help ensure that prescribers of DEA-controlled medication have training in how to treat patients with substance use disorder. Increased awareness leads to better outcomes. Ending the addiction epidemic will require thoughtful policy solutions like this bill, and I look forward to working with a bipartisan coalition of Members to get this important bill signed into law.”

“The science of addiction has advanced by leaps and bounds in the last decade, and yet, many in the medical community have not received any training on how to identify or treat patients struggling with this difficult disease. This has been a barrier to treatment and arguably fueled the epidemic,” said Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-05), co-founder and co-chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse. “The MATE Act deploys a pragmatic, reasonable approach to increase the number of doctors who receive training on addiction – so that patients can get help when they need it. I’m proud to work with my colleagues on this important legislation.”

“As communities in New Hampshire and across the country continue to grapple with the opioid and substance misuse crisis, it is imperative that those on the frontlines can identify, respond to and support people suffering from addiction,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster, the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force. “This legislation will help ensure that health care providers who prescribe controlled substances are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to prevent, recognize and treat substance use disorder. I’m pleased to cosponsor this commonsense legislation and I will continue working to secure funding and resources to help combat this epidemic.”

“We must address the barriers that prevent far too many Americans from accessing evidence-based care for addiction. It is time to mainstream addiction medicine education throughout the medical community and medical professional schools,” said Paul H. Earley, MD, DFASAM, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). “ASAM has long stood for normalizing the treatment of addiction, and we see a future where addiction prevention, treatment, remission and recovery are accessible to all, and profoundly improve the health of individuals at-risk of, and living with, addiction.”

“As a person in recovery, I know all too well the enormous challenges that Americans with addiction face every day when trying to access treatment,” said Justin Luke Riley, President & CEO of Young People in Recovery. “I wish more medical professionals had understood the struggle of addiction and provided informed, compassionate care when I was going through treatment. That is why I’m proud to champion policies that include a focus on medical education.”

“Tens of thousands of Americans are needlessly dying each year from opioid overdoses because federal law has limited access to medication assisted treatment, the gold standard of care. The MATE Act represents a major step forward in preventing such tragic deaths by dramatically expanding the number of medical providers who will have the knowledge necessary to prescribe life-saving medications,” Former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, founder of The Kennedy Forum.

“We look forward to working with all stakeholders to advance the needs of the millions of people impacted by addiction,” said Gary Mendell, Founder & CEO of Shatterproof.  “By better educating the medical workforce about safe and effective treatment for addiction, we have a powerful opportunity to improve care for the millions of Americans living with addiction, which is a complex disease of the brain, not a moral failing. To shatter the stigma surrounding addiction, we must equip medical professionals across the healthcare continuum to understand and treat addiction – and that starts with education.”

“We need to ensure people with addictions get good effective care when and where they need it. The lack of healthcare providers trained on evidence-based addiction prevention and treatment in the wake of a national crisis is greatly concerning. The recently introduced Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act is legislation that would alleviate this problem by ensuring prescribers of controlled substances get the education around evidence-based prevention and treatment they need to effectively treat people with addictions,” said Chuck Ingoglia, President & CEO National Council for Behavioral Health.

“As with all chronic diseases, those struggling with addiction deserve access to evidence-based treatment so they can live their fullest lives,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “We applaud Rep. Trahan for her leadership on this issue and for introducing this important bill.”

“Congresswoman Trahan’s bold call for physicians to respond to the opioid crisis by learning how to provide medically assisted treatment will save many thousands of lives and prevent devastation to families from the death of a loved one from an overdose,” said James L. Baker, M.D., M.P.H., pain management expert in Massachusetts who lost his 23 year old son to an opioid overdose. “Physicians could provide care for patients with opioid addiction starting right in the office, beginning their recovery on the first day they ask for help.  Medical care could be started in any emergency department, day or night, whenever the patient is ready to recover.  Patients could remain home with their families as they continue their recovery and rebuild their lives. I wish this had been available when my son was still alive and need of treatment.” 

Additional cosponsors include: Representatives Paul Tonko, Jason Crow, Max Rose, and Chris Pappas.

Specifically, the MATE Act would:

  • Create a one-time, non-repetitive requirement for all DEA controlled substance prescribers (Schedule II, III, IV or V) to complete training on treating and managing patients with opioid and other substance use disorders, unless the prescriber is otherwise qualified.
  • Allow accredited medical schools and residency programs, physician assistant schools, and schools of advanced practice nursing to fulfill the training requirement through comprehensive curriculum that meets the standards laid out in statute, without having to coordinate the development of their education with an outside medical society or state licensing body.
  • Normalize addiction medicine education across certain professional schools and phase out the need for these future practitioners to take a separate, federally mandated addiction course.
  • Significantly increase the number of medical practitioners with baseline knowledge on how to prevent, identify, treat, and manage patients with substance use disorder.
  • Satisfy the DATA 2000 X-waiver training requirement to prescribe addiction medications as long as a separate DATA 2000 X-waiver is required by law.

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