From: The Honorable Brian Higgins
Sent By: leslie.brady@mail.house.gov
Bill: H.R. 2536
Date: 1/12/2016

Supported by: American Medical Association, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, National Association of County and City Health Officials, Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, American Society of Addiction Medicine, Trust for America’s Health, National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable

Current Cosponsors: Blumenauer, Clark, Cohen, Duckworth, Esty, Gallego, Gibson, Hanna,Hastings, Jackson Lee, Katko, Lujan, McKinley, Pingree, Ryan, Stefanik, Swalwell, Tonko, Welch

Dear Colleague,

The United States is currently facing a severe opioid abuse epidemic.  Every day, more than 60 people die due to an overdose of prescription drugs.  In 2011, prescription opioid abuse resulted in more than 400,000 emergency department visits and cost health insurers an estimated $72 billion annually in medical costs.

While effective medications to treat opioid addiction exist, federal regulations continue to limit access to these treatments.  Prescribers of buprenorphine, medication used to treat opioid addiction, are limited to treating 30 patients in the first year, and up to 100 patients in year two and beyond.

These restrictions have created a huge disparity between those who can prescribe opioids and those who can prescribe treatments for opioid addiction.  Approximately 877,000 physicians can write controlled substance prescriptions and yet, of those, only 29,194 have the necessary waiver to prescribe office-based buprenorphine.

Addiction experts agree that individuals suffering from an opioid addiction need access to a broad range of treatments, including medication assisted therapy.  Treatments limited to rapid detoxification or forced abstinence have proven to be inefficient and frequently lead to overdoses during the first month of abstinence.

We have introduced the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act (TREAT Act), which would improve access to medication assisted treatment by increasing the number of patients a buprenorphine prescriber can treat and expanding the ability to prescribe buprenorphine to nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

The opioid abuse epidemic will continue to get worse if we do not take action. Please contact Leslie Brady (Leslie.Brady@mail.house.gov) in Rep. Higgins’ office or Derek Judd (Derek.Judd@mail.house.gov) in Rep. Hanna’s office if you would like more information or to become a cosponsor of this legislation.

Sincerely,

Brian Higgins                                                                                                   Richard Hanna

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress

Paul Tonko                                                                                                      John Katko

Member of Congress                                                                                     Member of Congress