Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) Nov. 20 introduced the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019 (S. 2892), 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 medicine.
AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, issued a statement praising the Senators and supporting the legislation saying, “As communities across the country continue to deal with the devastating effects of substance use disorders and chronic pain, we enthusiastically thank Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) for introducing the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019. This targeted and necessary approach to addressing the opioid epidemic will help patients access the care they need by increasing the number of physicians specifically trained to care for substance use disorders.”
In a joint press release on the legislation, Sen. Hassan stated, “As we grapple with the devastating consequences of the opioid epidemic, we know that hospitals need more doctors trained in addiction and pain management in order to treat substance misuse and prevent patients from becoming addicted to opioids in the first place.”
Sen. Collins also highlighted the need for additional physicians trained to address substance use disorders saying, “In Maine, there is only one addiction medicine program … our bipartisan bill would help increase the number of these providers by expanding and creating new residency programs in Maine and across the country, helping the millions of Americans who are struggling with substance use disorders achieve recovery and healing.”
The legislation sets aside 500 of the new slots for hospitals with established programs in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain medicine, and it sets aside 500 new slots for hospitals that are in the process of establishing a program in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain medicine.
Hospitals also may 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 medicine program. Hospitals are capped at 25 total 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).