AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, issued the following statement regarding Senate passage of the conference agreement for H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, legislation previously passed by the House of Representatives and aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic:
“We congratulate members of Congress for coming together in a bipartisan manner to approve legislation intended to address the opioid epidemic that is devastating our communities and our nation.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 22 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder, but only 11% of those individuals have received treatment. One barrier to access to treatment has been the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion, which prohibits Medicaid reimbursement for care at certain hospitals that provide inpatient or residential care for substance use disorders, including many teaching hospitals. We appreciate that, among other provisions, the bill includes a limited repeal of the Medicaid IMD exclusion, which is an important step to improve access to treatment services for Medicaid beneficiaries by expanding the number of facilities where they can seek care.
While we are grateful that Congress continues to prioritize efforts to reverse the epidemic, we are disappointed that H.R. 6 does not include key bipartisan provisions that would further close the treatment gap by bolstering the health care workforce and equipping health care providers with the information they need. We will continue to work with lawmakers to expand Medicare support for graduate medical education—including in key specialties such as addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, and pain medicine—and to remove barriers to collaboration between members of the treatment team that care for patients with substance use disorders.
Solving the opioid crisis will require a prolonged and multifaceted effort across multiple sectors. The nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals stand ready to build on the successes of this legislation to increase access to treatment and look forward to working with Congress to continue identifying opportunities to support this important work.”