Our modern addiction epidemic needs modern solutions. Shatterproof’s research-backed National Principles of Care include provisions like routine screenings across medical settings, personalized and individualized care, and ongoing disease management. To provide care that aligns with these principles, our health systems need some key updates.

Incentives for behavioral health providers

A new federal bill, the Improving Access to Behavioral Health Information Technology Act (H.R. 3331 in the House and S. 1732 in the Senate), would provide long-overdue incentive payments to behavioral health providers for adopting certified electronic health record (EHR) technology, via a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation demonstration project. EHRs make patient information available instantly and securely. Using EHRs greatly improves the overall quality and coordination of care, which is urgently needed in the field of addiction treatment.

This kind of incentive is already offered to other types of medical providers, thanks to the 2009 HITECH Act. But behavioral health providers were left out of that legislation. It’s time to stop discriminating against those who need care for behavioral or substance use disorders. It’s only right and morally just that behavioral health providers receive the same funding as other types of medical providers, ensuring care coordination and improving outcomes for patients.

Shatterproof supports the Improving Access to Behavioral Health Information Technology Act, with the hope that this pilot program will ultimately prove the value of and need for incentivizing EHRs for behavioral health providers on a broader scale in the near future.

Best practices for post-overdose care

When someone has a heart attack, they’re rushed to the ER. After emergency interventions are taken, that person is then given careful guidance for future care. They will be discharged from the ER with a thorough action plan and scheduled follow-up appointments. 

Sadly, that’s not the case with drug overdoses. Too often, people revived from overdoses do quick stints in the ER, only to be sent back out to their lives with no further medical appointments or treatment guidance. It’s a tragic missed opportunity to get someone with addiction into effective, science-based care—before their next overdose is a fatal one.

Shatterproof believes coordinated, personalized care is essential to saving lives and turning the tide of the opioid epidemic. That care should begin in our nation’s emergency rooms. We need federal legislation to develop protocol for post-overdose discharge.  

Early CDC data shows a 30% increase in opioid overdoses between June 2016 and September 2017. With overdoses on the rise all across our country, improving post-overdose care is crucial to saving lives. 

H.R. 5176, the Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms (POWER) Act, would develop a set of much-needed best practices for hospitals to implement when discharging patients post-overdose, including important steps like connecting the patient with a peer-support specialist, providing naloxone upon discharge, and referring the patient to treatment. These steps could make the difference between life and death for a patient at risk of another overdose, and Shatterproof strongly supports this effort to improve hospital best practices.

Increased workforce capacity

Got diabetes, or hypertension? You could walk into a doctor’s office tomorrow and leave with a prescription and a treatment plan. But if you suffer from addiction, finding a doctor is a whole different story. That’s because there are few medical professionals working in the addiction field, and the practitioners who do treat substance use disorders face unfair regulations which limit their ability to prescribe medication that can assist an individual in recovery. 

This lack of access to treatment is one of the biggest factors fueling our country’s overdose epidemic. Two current bills are seeking to fix this deadly problem. 

The first, H.R. 3692, or the Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act, would take a multi-pronged approach. First, it would make permanent an important provision from the 2016 Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) which allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine, one of the most effective treatments for opioid use disorder. The bill also adds additional provider types to that provision, including clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists. Finally, the bill codifies regulations to increase the cap on the number of patients a provider can treat with buprenorphine up to 275. The more qualified health providers who are able to prescribe buprenorphine, the more American lives that will be saved.

Another bill, the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act (H.R. 5102), would help to increase the number of professionals working in the addiction field by creating a program to allow for student loan forgiveness up to $250,000 in exchange for serving as a substance use disorder-related professional for up to six years. We desperately need more qualified professionals working in the addiction space, and this bill would go a long way toward meeting that need.

Making treatment available to every American with a substance use disorder is the most urgent intervention our country needs right now. Shatterproof supports both H.R. 3692 and H.R. 5012.

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