Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Opioid Workforce Act of 2021 on April 27. This bipartisan legislation would make available 1,000 new Medicare-supported residency positions to hospitals that have — or are in the process of establishing — approved residency programs in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain medicine.
Upon introduction, AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, and Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher, JD, issued a statement applauding the introduction of the legislation. “Academic medicine—the nation’s medical schools, teaching hospitals, and their physician faculty—is actively advancing a comprehensive response to the epidemic of substance use disorders even amid COVID-19,” they said. The statement continued, “The AAMC is committed to working with Senators Hassan and Collins, as well as their Senate colleagues, to advance this important piece of legislation and strengthen our health care infrastructure by ensuring that there are enough doctors to provide those with a substance use disorder and chronic pain the high-quality care they need.”
Of the 1,000 positions provided for in the legislation, 500 would be set aside for hospitals with established programs in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain medicine, and 500 slots would be set aside for hospitals that are in the process of establishing the aforementioned programs. Hospitals would not be able to receive more than 25 slots.
Hassan issued a press release highlighting the importance of training more physicians who are specially trained to treat substance use disorders, saying that the “bipartisan legislation would help teaching hospitals, such as Dartmouth-Hitchcock, hire more residents who specialize in addiction medicine, which in turn will help more Granite Staters who are battling addiction receive the health care that they need.” Collins highlighted the growing physician shortage, stating, “Our country was already facing a shortage of physicians trained in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, and pain management before the pandemic began, and the ongoing public health crisis has only exacerbated the opioid epidemic and the growing demand for treatment services.”