April 29, 2021

Senator Hassan Continues Push to Broaden Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatment During Committee Hearing

Following Push from Senator Hassan, Administration Recently Took Steps to Expand Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment

WASHINGTON – During a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan continued her push to broaden access to substance use disorder treatment, specifically by expanding access to medication-assisted treatment. The Senator also spoke about expanding youth suicide prevention efforts.


To watch the Senator’s questioning, click here.


Substance Use Disorder Treatment


Senator Hassan began by discussing the administration’s recent action to expand access to medication-assisted treatment, which the Senator has long pushed for.


“The Biden administration announced steps to remove some of the burdensome training requirements that practitioners must meet before they can prescribe medication-assisted treatment,” said Senator Hassan. “But there are additional steps that Congress must take to eliminate all of the existing barriers and to ensure access to opioid use disorder treatment for those who need it.”


Senator Hassan pointed to the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act, a bipartisan bill that she reintroduced earlier this year with Senator Murkowski. The bill would fully eliminate the bureaucratic hurdle – colloquially known as the “x-waiver” – for prescribing medication-assisted treatment, and she will continue working to pass this bill into law. 


Dr. Jonathan Muther, Vice President of Medical Services-Behavioral Health at Salud Family Health Centers, discussed barriers to treatment. He said, “we’re facing workforce shortage, and so if we don’t have clinicians available and if we don’t have clinicians working in the right places, we’re never gonna meet the need… So it’s really about eliminating barriers to care, building the workforce, and building that rapport with the patient community.”


Child and Adolescent Mental Health


Senator Hassan also spoke about the devastating public health crisis of youth suicide. The Senator highlighted the work of Martha Dickey from Boscawen, whose son died by suicide, and a New Hampshire nonprofit, Connor’s Climb Foundation, which have worked to help address youth suicide.


Dr. Tami D. Benton, Psychiatrist-in-Chief & Executive Director and Chair of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, discussed the need for additional training and education among students, including in schools, to help reduce youth suicide.