August 07, 2019

Senator Hassan Addresses Need to Expand Substance Misuse Treatment Options at Riverbend Community Mental Health

Senator Continues Push for Bipartisan Legislation to Remove Outdated Restrictions on Medication-Assisted Treatment

CONCORD – Senator Maggie Hassan visited Riverbend Community Mental Health yesterday to discuss the importance of expanding medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorder, and the ways Riverbend is supporting families and communities struggling with addiction.

Senator Hassan’s visit began with a tour of the facility where Riverbend administers medication-assisted treatment, and then she toured Riverbend’s Choices facility, which offers addiction recovery services. Senator Hassan spoke with providers and a patient about addressing substance misuse and her work to support Riverbend’s efforts, including the bipartisan bill she introduced that would eliminate barriers that currently restrict health care providers from prescribing buprenorphine – a proven medication-assisted treatment – to patients struggling with addiction.

“People grappling with substance use disorder need access to medication-assisted treatment, coupled with counseling and peer support. But there remains a stigma that holds people back from seeking treatment, and outdated restrictions prevent health care providers from prescribing certain forms of medication-assisted treatment,” Senator Hassan said. “I was glad to see firsthand the work Riverbend does – it makes such a difference in our community, and I will keep working across the aisle to support their efforts and increase access to medication-assisted treatment.”

The patient Senator Hassan met with began misusing substances at the age of 14 – nearly 30 years ago. Now, through the help of medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and peer support, he has been substance free for more than a year.

To effectively combat the opioid epidemic and treat people suffering from substance use disorder, we need all tools at our disposal,” said Peter Evers, Riverbend CEO. “We see every day how medication-assisted treatment helps to save lives, but unnecessary restrictions remain in place that limit access. It was great to have Senator Hassan here to talk more about our work supporting patients and the Concord community, and we’re grateful for her efforts to remove outdated barriers to medication-assisted treatment.”

Senator Hassan’s bipartisan Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act would eliminate a requirement that requires practitioners to apply for a waiver through the Drug Enforcement Administration in order to prescribe buprenorphine for substance use disorder treatment. The bill would also require that the Secretary of Health and Human Services conduct a national campaign to educate practitioners about the change in law and encourage providers to integrate substance use treatment into their practices.

Combating the opioid epidemic and substance misuse has been a top priority for Senator Hassan, successfully working with her colleagues in the New Hampshire Congressional delegation to secure more than $50 million in additional federal funding for New Hampshire to support those on the front lines of this epidemic. The Senator also worked to secure critical priorities for New Hampshire in comprehensive, bipartisan opioid legislation that the President signed into law in 2018. Earlier this year, the Senator introduced a bill to help ease the financial burden of grandparents who are raising grandchildren – something we increasingly see largely as a result of the fentanyl and opioid epidemic. During a February Senate Finance Committee hearing on prescription drug costs, Senator Hassan confronted a top Janssen Pharmaceuticals executive for her company’s role in spreading misinformation about addiction that helped fuel the opioid crisis. Senator Hassan has also pushed the Food and Drug Administration for a fuller accounting of its decision-making process for the approval and labeling of opioid drugs.

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