Reps. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) May 1 introduced the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019 (H.R. 2439), bipartisan legislation that would increase by 1,000 the number of Medicare supported residency positions available to teaching hospitals that have or are in the process of establishing approved residency programs in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain management.
AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, issued a statement in support of the legislation saying, “Physicians are a critical component of our nation’s health care infrastructure, and a real and significant physician shortage, that could reach nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032, is already limiting patient access to critical services. We also know that in 2016, more than 20 million adults needed substance use disorder treatment but only 11% received it. We must address the nation’s health care workforce challenges if we are to ensure every patient who seeks care has access to it.”
Rep. Schneider also issued a press release on the legislation, stating, “Turning the tide on the opioid crisis requires treating addiction like the disease that it is, and to do that, we need doctors. Our medical professionals on the frontlines of this epidemic are already stretched too thin. Our bipartisan legislation aims to educate more physicians equipped with the latest training in addiction medicine and psychiatry to help the estimated 20 million Americans who need substance use treatment get much needed care.”
The legislation sets aside 500 of the new slots for hospitals with established programs in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain management, and sets aside 500 new slots for hospitals that are in the process of establishing a program in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain management. Hospitals may also receive slots for the associated number of residents training in a prerequisite program, such as internal medicine, necessary for the number of full-time residents that will ultimately train in the addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, and/or pain management program. Hospitals are capped at 25 slots, but a hospital may apply for slots under both the new and existing categories (i.e., a hospital with an established pain management program that is also in the process of establishing an addiction psychiatry program may apply for slots under both the ‘new’ and ‘existing’ buckets).