WMUR Highlights Senator Hassan’s Bipartisan Bill to Train More Doctors in Substance Misuse Recovery & Prevention
To watch the WMUR clip, click here.
MANCHESTER – In case you missed it, WMUR highlighted bipartisan legislation that Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to support hospitals in hiring and training doctors in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, and pain management. The bipartisan Opioid Workforce Act would create 1,000 new medical residency positions at teaching hospitals in New Hampshire and across the country.
Senator Hassan has been a leader in Congress in working across the aisle to combat the fentanyl, heroin, and opioid epidemic. The Senator worked with the rest of the New Hampshire delegation to ensure that the government funding bill for fiscal year 2020 – which is now law – continues funding the State Opioid Response grant program at $1.5 billion, maintaining the 15 percent set-aside that Senator Hassan worked to secure for hardest-hit states. The Senator also worked to pass the bipartisan SUPPORT Act – which the President signed into law – that included critical priorities for New Hampshire such as establishing comprehensive opioid recovery centers and expanding access to medication-assisted treatment.
See WMUR’s coverage below, or click here.
By Jennifer Crompton
A new bill put forward by Sen. Maggie Hassan, the Opioid Workforce Act, aims to provide Medicare support for medical school residency programs specializing in addiction.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average, 130 Americans die from opioid overdoses each day. Research also shows that while roughly 21 million U.S. adults needed treatment, only about 11% received it.
The numbers come as Congress works to boost manpower for addiction medicine across the country.
The number of opioid related deaths has dropped in some areas of New Hampshire, but overdoses and other related problems are ever-present.
“We’ve certainly seen some trends around drug abuse with meth increase, we see a lot of that in our hospitals where a few years ago that was not prevalent at all,” said Justin Looser, director of Behavioral Health Services at Portsmouth Hospital and Parkland Medical Center. “It’s a sign that things are shifting to another drug but not necessarily getting better.”
According to Looser, awareness has grown along with resources, but medical expertise has not.
“We still see the lack of actual providers to be able to accommodate the addiction problem in New Hampshire,” Looser said.
Proposed legislation would help teaching hospitals like Dartmouth Hitchcock develop or expand medical residency programs in shortage areas like addiction and psychiatry and pain management.
“At Portsmouth Hospital, we recognized the shortage of psychiatry and expanded it to begin a GME program to bring those specialists on board and hopefully retain them within the state," Looser said.
The bipartisan Opioid Workforce Act has House and Senate versions sponsored by Hassan and Rep. Annie Kuster.
“So, people who have this illness can get treatment, get better and can turn their lives around,” said Hassan.
“You have medication assisted therapy which psychiatry specializes in and there is a lack of that in New Hampshire,” said Looser. “Adding more physicians or providers you’re going to be able to open that up a lot.”
The Opioid Workforce Act would train about 1,000 doctors and medical professionals over the course of four or five years.
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