Schneider Bill to Train More Doctors to Combat Opioid Epidemic Passes Ways & Means Committee
This week, bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL) to train more doctors equipped to combat the opioid epidemic passed the House Ways & Means Committee. The next step of the legislation is to head to the floor by a vote of the full House.
H.R. 3414, the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019, would create 1,000 additional residency positions over five years at hospitals with addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain management programs. Schneider introduced the legislation in May with Reps. Susan W. Brooks (R-IN), Annie Kuster (D-NH), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY).
This legislation to expand graduate medical education (GME) aims to alleviate the worsening physician shortage, which is anticipated to be as high as 121,000 physicians by 2032 according to a study by the Association of American of Medical Colleges. This shortage is particularly acute in the field of addiction medicine and substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. This shortfall of doctors threatens to harm our efforts to reverse the opioid epidemic.
“Turning the tide on the opioid crisis requires treating addiction like the disease that it is, and to do that, we need doctors,” said Schneider. “Our medical professionals on the frontlines of this epidemic are already stretched too thin. I am pleased my colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee passed this bipartisan legislation to educate more physicians equipped with the latest training in addiction medicine and psychiatry to help the estimated 20 million Americans who need substance use treatment get much needed care, and I look forward to building support for its passage on the floor.”
The Opioid Workforce Act is supported by the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, Illinois Hospital Association, America’s Essential Hospitals, Federation of American Hospitals, Greater New York Hospital Association, Healthcare Leadership Council, Addiction Medicine Foundation, Addiction Medicine Fellowship Directors Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, National Association for Behavioral Healthcare, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine, American Psychiatric Association, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, Addiction Treatment Providers Association, Medicare Rights Center, Healthcare Association of New York State, California Hospital Association, Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, Indiana University, Therapeutic Communities Association of New York, and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida.
In addition, a second bill introduced by Schneider, H.R. 2477 Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act, passed the Committee. This legislation simplifies complex Medicare enrollment rules to help eliminate needless gaps in health care coverage and prevent lifetime late-enrollment penalties. Schneider introduced the legislation in May with Reps. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Jackie Walorski (R-IN).
“Our Medicare system exists to ensure our seniors have access to quality, affordable health care, but for too many older Americans the enrollment process can be a source of stress, confusion, and even lifelong penalties,” said Schneider. “The BENES Act makes commonsense updates to improve education, fix the fragmented enrollment periods, and make sure fewer seniors fall through the cracks. I look forward to building support to help more older Americans get the quality health care they deserve.”