AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, and Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher, JD, issued the following statement on the introduction of the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Act (H.R. 3441) in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would help support new residency positions to improve patient access to care and help address the substance use disorder epidemic:
“The AAMC applauds Representatives Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), David McKinley (R-W.V.), and Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), for introducing bipartisan legislation to address the overwhelming impact of the substance use disorder crisis in the United States. The Substance Use Disorder Workforce Act would provide 1,000 new Medicare-supported graduate medical education training positions over five years in hospitals that have or are establishing accredited residency programs in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain medicine.
The targeted legislation, along with bipartisan companion legislation introduced in the Senate last month, takes a crucial step in addressing the devastating impact of overdose deaths, substance use disorders, and chronic pain. More than 20 million people in the United States suffer from a substance use disorder, and the public health emergency of COVID-19 has only exacerbated many difficulties individuals, families, and communities face in accessing high-quality care. Patients faced challenges accessing care even prior to the pandemic. In 2018, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that only 11% of the 21.2 million patients age 12 or older who needed treatment for a substance use disorder received that treatment. Additionally, more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in the 12 months ending in May 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period.
The AAMC is committed to improving the health of people everywhere and looks forward to working with Representatives Schneider, McKinley, Kuster, and other congressional leaders to advance this important legislation.”