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house Bill H.R. 2536

Do Physicians and Addiction Specialists Need to be Able to Treat More Opioid Addicts Every Year?

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Health
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedMay 21st, 2015

What is House Bill H.R. 2536?

This bill, which is known as the TREAT Act, would increase the number of patients that a healthcare provider can treat per year in an addiction recovery program, in order to help reduce the prevalence of opioid addiction. Currently, providers are limited to treating 30 patients per year by the federal government, and this legislation would raise that cap to 100 patients annually.

Nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants would be allowed to treat up to 100 patients per year so long as they:
  • Are licensed in a state that already allows them to prescribe controlled substances;

  • Complete approved training on opioid addiction treatment;

  • Are supervised by a physician who is approved to prescribe opioid addiction medicine or are certified addiction treatment nurse practitioners that work with a physician in a “qualified practice setting” when state law allows it.

Certain physicians would be able to request that the 100 patient cap be lifted after one year so that they can treat as many patients for opioid addiction in a year as they want to. In order to be eligible for this cap to be lifted:

  • Physicians must be substance abuse treatment specialists as recognized by specific board or society certifications;

  • Non-specialist physicians must complete approved training and practice in a “qualified practice setting.” A qualified practice setting would be defined as clinics that have oversight, performance metrics, or quality review, or that are serving high-need populations.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) would be required to examine changes in:

  • Treatment availability and utilization;

  • Quality of treatment programs;

  • Integration with routine healthcare services;

  • Impact on state-level policies and legislation;

  • Use of nurse practitioner and physician’s assistant prescribers.

Impact

People addicted to opioids and receiving treatment for their addiction, physicians, nurses, and physician’s assistants who treat people for opioid addiction, and the GAO.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2536

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) — the sponsor of this legislation — called for a response to the threat of opioid addiction and expanded access to treatment:

"Opioid abuse, while especially prevalent in Western New York, is a national epidemic that does not discriminate based on age or geography. Giving prescribers the proper training and tools to combat addiction is an important piece of the puzzle to recovery and saving lives."

The lead cosponsor of this bill's Senate companion, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), believes that:

“The TREAT Act will remove a roadblock to getting people the help they need to break the cycle of addiction and get on a path to recovery.”

Currently, this bill boasts seven cosponsors of a more bipartisan flavor, with four Republicans and three Democrats having expressed their support. In the Senate, it has seven cosponsors, with Sen. Paul being the only Republican.

Among the organizations that have expressed their support for this legislation are the American Medical Association, the Drug Policy Alliance, and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.


Of Note: According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, there are 1.9 million Americans who are abusing or dependent on prescription opioids, and another 517,000 who are addicted to heroin.

The National Institutes of Health has noted that Suboxone, which is one of the medications that would be more widely available if this bill were enacted, has proven to be effective in treating patients for opioid dependence.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Chris Yarzab)

AKA

Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act

Official Title

To provide access to medication-assisted therapy, and for other purposes.

    Emphasize effective therapies not government regulations. People who seek treatment should not be turned away. Regardless, doctors need to serve the community responsibly.
    Like (9)
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    Yes, let's just overload the overloaded doctors. How about an emphasis on drug addiction prevention instead of treatment? How about the government not shove stuff down the throats of our best and brightest (the result of which would be driving them out of that sacred and critical profession)? Addiction is a terrible thing, something I grew up watching as it destroyed my family, but it's not a problem the government is equipped to solve, as with most issues we face today.
    Like (11)
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    Hi
    Like (8)
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    The current policy on this situation is government over-regulation, plain and simple. Let the doctors decide how many cases they can comfortably handle. We are currently facing an opioid addiction epidemic - government red-tape is an inexcusable hindrance.
    Like (6)
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    This so common sense. My only concern is waiting a year to lift the cap. The heroin epidemic in some areas are very bad.
    Like (6)
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    It seems absurd that any doctor be limited to how many patients they voluntarily treat for any reason. Even this higher cap needs to disappear. It artificially creates care shortages and could contribute to elevated costs of care.
    Like (5)
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    I was astounded when I heard that this was even an option. If people make a mistake, and seek help from the proper medical professionals, those professionals should be able to help them.
    Like (4)
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    If there are more opiate addictions occurring each year, then it seems reasonable that their will be a need for more treatment specialists. I also recognize that many of these addictions are promulgated by over prescribing physicians and patients who over medicate. However, I would like to see regulations regarding treatment and licensing of treatment facilities.
    Like (3)
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    Yes! If the physicians meet the conditions set by this bill, why would there need to be a limit to the number of people he/she can treat?
    Like (3)
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    The opioid addiction problem is a systematic regulatory problem. I work in the pharma industry and the problem is not necessarily the physicians but the drugs prescribed. Most physicians don't know the alternatives available for treating pain to negate addiction. This is on large part due to a failure in education for the physicians about compounded medication, and regulatory failures that clear opioids for medical use when there are plenty of non addictive alternatives available.
    Like (2)
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    Pharmaceutical companies have largely created and contributed to this problem and should be obligated to treat affected individuals. The use of drugs to treat drug addiction does not lead to a viable long term solution. Effective treatment can be provided by trained practitioners who are not physicians. This will increase success and reduce overwhelming costs.
    Like (2)
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    When you start paying providers to see more patients the quality of care declines. Lets get the government out of practicing medicine.
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    Why are you trying to limit the availability of help? You just want to jail more people huh?
    Like (2)
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    Why are there limits on how many people a doctor can treat? This bill does nothing useful. Rewrite it and eliminate the limits. Better yet, just get the federal government out of medicine altogether. Nothing intelligent ever comes out of Washington D.C.
    Like (2)
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    There shouldn't be a cap on the number of individuals allowed treatment for addiction. After all, addiction is a disease. This is not a solution, but hopefully, a step in the right direction.
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    Why would there be a limit?
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    I believe the support for this bill is coming from the right organizations and associations. This sounds like a solid step in the right direction. Treatment, not punishments like prison that are ineffective and worsening the epidemic.
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    Absolutely, the problem is that people will steal the prescription drugs trying to get off of the illegal ones, it seems that we are making a black market yet again trying to regulate a cure, open it wider and help a larger amount and maybe some people have the wrong intention but that doesn't mean we should punish some people that just want to get better. It's a physical dependency from one bad choice, not a perpetual bad choice. You can't just decide not to be addicted, you seek treatment. And if 31 people want to go to the same doctor for treatment, they should get the help they need.
    Like (1)
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    No where in this bills does it force doctors to become overworked. They merely have the option of treating up to 100 patients. This is a necessary, common sense step towards getting better care for addicted people.
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    Treatment is indeed the answer when it comes to addiction. Prisons don't help. So we need a robust system that can treat anyone and everyone who wishes to get away from drugs that are most likely imparting their daily lives.
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